Randomized controlled trial of the Physical Activity Leaders (PALs) program for adolescent boys from disadvantaged secondary schools

Prev Med. Mar-Apr 2011;52(3-4):239-46. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.01.009. Epub 2011 Jan 27.


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of the Physical Activity Leaders (PALs) program. PALs is an obesity prevention program for low-active adolescent boys from disadvantaged schools.

Methods: The study was conducted in the Hunter Region, New South Wales (NSW), Australia from June to December 2009. Four disadvantaged secondary schools were randomized to treatment conditions for the 6-month study period. Participants were 100 adolescent boys [mean (SD) age=14.3(0.6) years; BMI=22.1 kg/m(-2) (4.6); BMI z-score=0.6 (1.2)]. The primary outcome was change in BMI and secondary outcomes were body fat (bioelectrical impedance analysis), waist circumference, muscular fitness (leg dynamometer, 90º push-up test and 7-stage sit-up test), physical activity (5-days of pedometry) and selected dietary behaviors.

Results: Significant group-by-time interaction effects were found for BMI (mean difference=-0.8 kg/m(-2), p<0.001, d =0.7), BMI z-score (mean difference=-0.2, p<0.001, d=0.7), and body fat (mean difference=-1.8%, p<0.05, d=0.5), but not for waist circumference, muscular fitness or physical activity. Participants in the intervention group reduced their consumption of sugar-containing beverages.

Conclusions: The PALs program was a feasible and efficacious approach to induce healthy weight loss in adolescent boys from disadvantaged secondary schools.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • New South Wales
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Peer Group
  • Poverty Areas
  • School Health Services
  • Weight Loss / physiology