Evaluating a school based childhood obesity intervention for posture and comfort


Background: Research shows that students who are more active throughout the day have fewer reports of body part discomfort and greater energy expenditure needed to combat childhood obesity. Many factors may contribute to the overall health of the child, including the postures that are required to complete assigned tasks at their school workstations. Decreasing sedentary behaviors in children through the use of standing desks at school has been shown to increase calorie expenditure and may be a viable approach to the energy imbalance typical of modern children. The objective of this research was to quantify and analyze sub-optimal postures and self-reported discomfort of students during the use of traditional seated and stand-biased desks to determine whether any unintended consequences of the intervention were present. Methods: A postural analysis based on the Portable Ergonomic Observation (PEO) method was used to assess the posture of 42 elementary school students as they worked at their assigned workstation (either standing or seated). Two classrooms contained stand-biased workstations (15 students) and two classrooms had traditional seated workstations (27 students). Each student was assessed three times at 10 minutes, for a total of 30 minutes of observations each. The percent of time spent in preferred versus non-preferred postures was then computed. Student body part discomfort surveys were used to assess the discomfort of students between the two groups. The relationship between type of workstation and percent time in non-preferred postures and body discomfort was examined using Wilcoxon ranksum tests and Fisher’s exact tests, respectively. The significance level was p ≤ 0.05 for all of the two-sided tests. Results: No significant difference was found between the two groups and time spent in non-preferred postures and body discomfort, children using stand-biased workstations reported less discomfort overall. Stand-biased desks presented no additional ergonomic issues, while providing increased caloric expenditure. Conclusions: A study containing a larger sample and older children that includes postural observation throughout the school day is needed for future research.

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Benden, M. , Pickens, A. , Shipp, E. , Perry, J. and Schneider, D. (2013) Evaluating a school based childhood obesity intervention for posture and comfort. Health, 5, 54-60. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.58A3008.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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