Centre for Community Child Health

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ChocHealth for Kids

  • ChocHealth for kids!

    Childhood blood pressure predicts future health - including heart disease and stroke. Exercise, weight loss and a healthy diet all help blood pressure - but many of us find it hard to keep these up. Palatable foods with health benefits could make this easier. 

    Eating dark chocolate could be good for children's health. In adults, dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and death from heart disease, without increasing weight. There aren't any studies in children.

    ChocHealth for Kids! is a randomised-controlled study involving 2 primary schools in Melbourne. We hope to see if children, teachers and families are happy with a school program that provides a small amount of dark chocolate every day.  We will look for healthful effects (like lower blood pressure), and unwanted effects (like weight gain).

    ChocHealth for Kids! is a pilot study. If it goes well, it will help us plan a larger trial. This would find out if dark chocolate truly lowers children's blood pressure.

    Aims

    • To set up a school program delivering two buttons of dark chocolate (6-7 g) every day to Grade 5 and 6 students for about 8 weeks.
    • To study its health effects in Grades 5 and 6 students.

    Method

    Recruiting children: Teachers give Grade 5 and 6 students invitation packs for their parents. They contain information about the study, a questionnaire and consent forms. The questionnaire asks about the student's health, usual chocolate intake, and physical activity.  We also collect socio-demographic data. Parents are welcome to contact the research team if they have questions about the study. 

    Parents return the questionnaire and consent form to the teacher. A reminder pack is handed out if a student hasn't returned their consent form and questionnaire after 10 days. The research team collects them all at the end of Term 3.

    Students can't take part if they already receive treatment for hypertension, or if they have severe allergic reactions to nuts or milk (anaphylaxis).

    Who gets the chocolate? Classes with more than 65% response can be in the study. Each class will be randomly allocated into one of two groups - 'Chocolate' or 'No Chocolate'. 

    Students in 'Chocolate' classes get 2 dark chocolate buttons before lunch, every day, in Term 4. Students in 'No Chocolate' classes just eat lunch as usual.

    Assessments:  The research team meets all the students towards the end of Term 3, and again at the end of Term 4. The students fill in a short survey in the classroom about their health. We also measure their weight, height, waist girth and blood pressure. Later, we compare the 'Chocolate' and 'No Chocolate' class results.

    At the end of the program, we also ask teachers and students what they thought of the program.

    Timing

    Children and parents complete the study by December 2010.

    The research team completes analysis by July 2011.

    Papers

    ChocHealth for Kids! - The effects of dark chocolate on children's blood pressure  April 2012 (210KB)

    Information for parents

    Methodology: Randomised controlled trial
    Date: July 2010 - July 2011
    Funding: Centre for Community Child Health, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne
    Key contact:

    Dr Jon Quach
    Tel: (03) 9345 4812

    Contacts/Staff involved:

    Dr Eunice Chan
    eunice.chan@rch.org.au

    Prof Melissa Wake
    melissa.wake@rch.org.au

    Dr Michael Cheung

    Dr Jon Quach
    jon.quach@mcri.edu.au

    Dr Valerie Sung

    Mrs Fiona Mensah

    Ms Elissa York
    elissa.york@mcri.org.au

    Ms Lauren Anderson

 

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

The Centre for Community Child Health is a department of The Royal Children’s Hospital and a research group of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.