School health interventions ‘do not increase kids activity’
School-based health interventions have little effect on children, researchers have shown.
A research programme which aimed to increase physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption showed little effect for the 2,000 participants aged 8-10.
School based interventions do not increase the time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity or reduce sedentary time, Active for Life Year 5 (AFLY5), one of the largest trials of its kind, concluded.
However, the programme did reduce the time spent in front of the screen at weekends and self-reported consumption of snacks and high-energy drinks.
Professor Debbie Lawler, who led the study, suggested changes may “take time to embed and affect behaviour” and that “it may require more intensive behavioural interventions with children or upstream interventions at the family and societal level”.
The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research programme and consisted of:
- Teacher training
- Lesson plans
- Interactive homework activities
- Written material for school newsletters and parents
- Reduced levels of physical activity and lack of fruit and vegetable consumption are associated with poor health conditions.
- Previous studies involving school interventions have proved beneficiary, however, the large number of limitations of these programmes may suggest the effects are overstated.
The study is available to view on the BMJ website [paywalled].