Feasibility of a Home-Delivered Internet Obesity Prevention Program for Fourth-Grade Students

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Scott Owens
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Laurel Lambert
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Suzanne McDonough
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Kenneth Green
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Mark Loftin
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This pilot study examined the feasibility of an interactive obesity prevention program delivered to a class of fourth-grade students utilizing daily e-mail messages sent to the students’ home computers. The study involved a single intact class of 22 students, 17 (77%) of whom submitted parental permission documentation and received e-mail messages each school day over the course of one month. Concerns regarding Internet safety and children’s use of e-mail were addressed fairly easily. Cost/benefit issues for the school did not seem prohibitive. Providing e-mail access to students without a home computer was accomplished by loaning them personal digital assistant (PDA) devices. In larger interventions, loaning PDAs is probably not feasible economically, although cell phones may be an acceptable alternative. It was concluded that this type of interactive obesity prevention program is feasible from most perspectives. Data from a larger scale effectiveness study is still needed.

Owens and Loftin are with the Dept. of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677. Lambert is with the Dept. of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677. McDonough is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Mississippi College, Clinton, MS 39058. Green is with the Dept. of Computer and Information Science, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677.

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