Background/objectives: To evaluate a peer modelling, rewards and pedometer-feedback intervention designed to increase children's physical activity and which uses the same behaviour-change principles underlying the Food Dude Healthy Eating Programme.
Subjects/methods: The study was conducted in two primary schools in Wales. Participants were 47 children (21 boys, 26 girls) from the experimental school and 53 children (29 boys, 24 girls) from a matched control school, aged 9-11 years. Children in the experimental school took part in the intervention; over 8 days they were introduced to fictional role models (the Fit n' Fun Dudes) via visual and audio intervention materials and received small rewards when their daily pedometer step counts increased by 1500 steps per day relative to their baselines. Pedometer measures were taken from children in both schools at baseline, intervention (baseline 2 for the control school) and 12-week follow-up.
Results: Among experimental girls, steps per day were significantly higher during the intervention (14 686+/-2540) and at follow-up (13 737+/-3288) compared to baseline (10 864+/-2481, P<0.001) and control girls (P<0.005). Experimental boys showed significantly higher daily steps during the intervention compared to baseline (16 237+/-4204 cf. 13 452+/-3258, P<0.001) and control boys (P<0.005). There were no significant differences between activity levels of experimental and control boys at follow-up.
Conclusions: The intervention resulted in substantial increases in children's physical activity, which was well maintained over a 12-week period in girls.