Kenyatta University and the CHEO-HALO group are preparing to conduct a study that will examine the influence of behavioural, physical, social, and policy environments on the relationship between lifestyle characteristics and weight gain in school aged children. This study, called the International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle and the Environment (ISCOLE), will collect data from 500 children in each of 12 countries representing five major regions of the world – including Kenya in Africa.

The participating children, their parents, and a school contact will be requested to complete questionnaires related to diet, lifestyle, neighbourhood, the home and school environment. Physical attributes of the children such as their body weight, physical activity, and dietary patterns will also be directly measured using standardized procedures and questionnaires.

Participating children will also be asked to participate in an additional study that will focus on their physical education knowledge and skills. This secondary study, called the Assessment of Physical Literacy, will help teachers, coaches, and other physical activity leaders learn the best ways of measuring how well children are doing in physical and health education. The assessment will include an obstacle course to measure jumping, running, hopping, catching, throwing and kicking skills; measurement of their hand grip strength; measurement of their core/abdominal strength; a measure of their flexibility; their running speed; and questions about physical activity and fitness.

These are both minimal risk studies and therefore no aspects of the procedures are anticipated to present any risk of injury to the children.

Schools will be methodologically selected to represent other schools in the Nairobi County. Data collection in these schools may take up to 5 research visits in a span of 4 weeks. The study team is seeking to recruit up to 30 pupils from the classes in the participating schools that best correspond to 10 year olds (standard 5 pupils). Participation is therefore very important and the researchers hope that contacted schools, parents and children will positively consider the request.

The results of this study will provide important new information that will help in the development of lifestyle interventions to address childhood obesity that will be culturally relevant for populations across these countries.

This study is slated to start in Kenya in January 2012 and run through to December 2012.

For more information about this study, please contact the research team.