Cardiovascular (C-V) diseases, coronary artery disease and essential hypertension, are the leading causes of death in the United States. Evidence is clear that these disease processes begin in youth. The overall goal of the Children's Activity Trial for C-V Health (CATCH) is to develop, implement and evaluate a multi-center C-V health promotion program for upper elementary school-age children. Phase I of the trial consists of the development of three different programs and the implementation in four schools at each center. First, a cardiovascular curriculum is to be introduced to alter health behaviors through changes in knowledge, attitudes and beliefs. This curriculum is delivered by a trained classroom teacher. Second, a parent education and information program would reinforce the curriculum and introduce behavioral techniques to enhance healthy behaviors in the family. Third, specific components of the school environment are altered. Modifications made in the school lunch would reduce sodium and sucrose by 50% and fat by 30%. The school lunch program also serves as an experimental setting in which children have the opportunity to make choices between C-V healthy and non-healthy foods. Aerboic activities are introduced into the physical education program. In addition, after-school activities for students and school staff are part of a personalized exercise program. A CATCH-All committee consisting of teachers, parents, food service workers and community leaders will promote activities such as Health Fairs. The two-year trial (4th and 5th graders in first year) will be conducted in four schools in St. Charles Parish. Proximal to New Orleans, this parish is biracial and is representative of several rural areas of South Louisiana. The trial is designed such that the curriculum is administered in one school, the curriculum and parent program in a second school, the curriculum, parent control. Extensive evaluation measurements including C-V risk factor assessment, changes in behaviors and attitudes, and evaluation of process will be made. Most of the implementation procedures and evaluation methods have already been developed as part of the Heart Smart Program at LSU Medical Center. C-V health promotion in young children offers the opportunity to develop healthy lifestyles for prevention of future disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
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Louisiana State University Hsc New Orleans
Schools of Medicine
New Orleans
United States
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