Prevention of Metabolic Syndrome for School Adolescents: Participatory Action Research
Objective: To develop a programme for the prevention of metabolic syndrome in adolescent schoolchildren through a participatory process, and to compare the adolescents’ nutritional conditions, waist circumferences, fasting blood sugar levels, triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels before and after participating in the programme.
Design: Participatory action research (PAR).
Methodology: The subjects in this study consisted of 40 students, 12 parents, 13 teachers/school administrators and 10 shopkeepers. Through participatory action, the subjects developed a programme to prevent metabolic syndrome in adolescents. Qualitative data were analysed using content analysis. Quantitative data were compared using paired T-test and Wilcoxon signed rank test.
Results: The PAR-developed metabolic syndrome programme was operated in four stages. In the frst stage, causes of the syndrome were identifed, namely, overconsumption; inappropriate food consumption habits; easy access to food; lack of environments conducive to exercise; and obstacles to behaviour change. The second stage engaged the adolescents, their families and school in planning the syndrome-preventing programme. The third stage, which was the implementation of the programme, required the adolescents to make self-inspired changes with support by their families and their school’s clear policy. The fnal stage was for regular self-monitoring and follow-ups. From the study, the participating adolescents’ post-experiment
fasting blood sugar levels were signifcantly lower than their pre-experiment levels (Z = -3.01, p < .001). However, no signifcant differences in their nutritional conditions, waist circumferences, triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels were found (p > .05).
Recommendations: In this study, the participatory process involving adolescents families, friends and school personnel enabled the subjects to change their behaviour, which could help prevent metabolic syndrome and lower their blood sugar levels. It was also found that clear communication and coordination led to stakeholders’ cooperation, which was a key factor in effectively preventing metabolic syndrome in adolescents.
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