Feeding Exercise Trial in Adolescents (FETA) Deemed a Success

Posted 03/13/2017 | By HealthCorps

The intent of the FETA was to evaluate whether using a community-based fitness and exercise  program, that also involved parent participation, would be effective in improving levels of stored fat in overweight and obese teens.  With U.S. rates of childhood and teen obesity still high, optima l treatment options are needed to intercept this alarming public health issue.

In the study, 181 overweight or obese teens between the ages of thirteen to fifteen were randomly assigned to one of three groups: (a) diet and activity (b) activity only (c) control group.  Those in the activity only group exercised for 45 minutes, three days a week, with supervision.  The diet and activity group followed the same exercise formula, and also participated in 15 minutes of group-based sessions that discussed nutrition and lifestyle.  Parents also attended those 15 minute sessions.  The program lasted for three months and then the groups were followed for an additional three months.

Participants underwent physical assessments (body measurements and fitness parameter assessments), and they also answered a questionnaire which was a modified version of a survey known as FEAHQ (Family Eating and Activity Habits Questionnaire).  The study results at the end of the three month program showed that both the diet and activity group and the activity group had significant changes in BMI, waist measurements, blood pressure (systolic and diastolic measurements), pulse rate (an indicator of cardiac health) and they also had faster times in a 50 meter sprint.  Even more substantial changes in those health parameters were noted at the six month review.

There was however one noted result.  Significant changes in the FEAHQ survey were achieved at the three and six month reviews, but ONLY in the diet and activity group.  The researchers suggest that the many positive changes noted in the teens are clear evidence of the success of FETA.  It is especially positive to see that during the period after the program ended, additional improvements were made in all the measures of health.  That suggests that the program instilled enough basic education and motivation to propel additional health improvements.

HealthCorps, through its Living Labs and HCU (HealthCorps University) aims to provide education and support to teens, so that they can sustain health improvements long after they finish the program.

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