Targeting preschool children to promote cardiovascular health: Cluster randomized trial

Jaime Céspedes, German Briceño, Michael E. Farkouh, Rajesh Vedanthan, Jorge Baxter, Martha Leal, Paolo Boffetta, Mark Woodward, Marilyn Hunn, Rodolfo Dennis, Valentin Fuster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Background: School programs can be effective in modifying knowledge, attitudes, and habits relevant to long-term risk of chronic diseases associated with sedentary lifestyles. As part of a long-term research strategy, we conducted an educational intervention in preschool facilities to assess changes in preschoolers' knowledge, attitudes, and habits toward healthy eating and living an active lifestyle. Methods: Using a cluster design, we randomly assigned 14 preschool facilities in Bogotá, Colombia to a 5-month educational and playful intervention (7 preschool facilities) or to usual curriculum (7 preschool facilities). A total of 1216 children aged 3-5 years, 928 parents, and 120 teachers participated. A structured survey was used at baseline, at the end of the study, and 12 months later to evaluate changes in knowledge, attitudes, and habits. Results: Children in the intervention group showed a 10.9% increase in weighted score, compared with 5.3% in controls. The absolute adjusted difference was 3.90 units (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.64-6.16; P <.001). Among parents, the equivalent statistics were 8.9% and 3.1%, respectively (absolute difference 4.08 units; 95% CI, 2.03 to 6.12; P <.001), and among teachers, 9.4% and 2.5%, respectively (absolute difference 5.36 units; 95% CI, -0.29-11.01; P =.06). In the intervened cohort 1 year after the intervention, children still showed a significant increase in weighted score (absolute difference of 6.38 units; P <.001). Conclusions: A preschool-based intervention aimed at improving knowledge, attitudes, and habits related to healthy diet and active lifestyle is feasible, efficacious, and sustainable in very young children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-35.e3
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD)
  • Global health
  • Health education
  • Noncommunicable disease (NCD)
  • Preschool children


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