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Buddy program on personal health deemed successful: study

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A major study from the University of Manitoba released at 3 p.m. says that older children mentoring younger children in nutrition and physical activity can reduce obesity and diabetes.

A year-long study in 19 randomly-selected schools in 2009-2010 found that students’ waistlines grew by an average of 1.42 centimetres less than would be expected for elementary school children, said U of M Prof. Jonathan McGavock.

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Researchers came up with a curriculum on personal health. Teachers then taught the older kids the information and the older kids took talks and intense fitness activity to the younger kids once a week.

The idea had worked in British Columbia, said McGavock: "They developed a curriculum that healthy messages coming from older children would be taken up more effectively than if they came from teachers or health care professionals."

They concluded that each centimetre less on the waistline could lead to a 15 per cent lower incidence of diabetes among adults, he said.

Researchers have not released the names of the schools involved.

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