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Randomized Controlled Trial
. 2012 Feb;102(2):368-74.
doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300220. Epub 2011 Nov 28.

Physical Education, Obesity, and Academic Achievement: A 2-year Longitudinal Investigation of Australian Elementary School Children

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Randomized Controlled Trial

Physical Education, Obesity, and Academic Achievement: A 2-year Longitudinal Investigation of Australian Elementary School Children

Richard D Telford et al. Am J Public Health. .
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Abstract

Objectives: We determined whether physical education (PE) taught by specialists contributed to academic development and prevention of obesity in elementary school children.

Methods: Our 2-year longitudinal study involved 620 boys and girls initially in grade 3 in Australia, all receiving 150 minutes per week of PE. One group (specialist-taught PE; n = 312) included 90 minutes per week of PE from visiting specialists; the other (common-practice PE; n = 308) received all PE from generalist classroom teachers. Measurements included percentage of body fat (measured by dual-emission x-ray absorptiometry) and writing, numeracy, and reading proficiency (by government tests).

Results: Compared with common-practice PE, specialist-taught PE was associated with a smaller increase in age-related percentage of body fat (P = .02). Specialist-taught PE was also associated with greater improvements in numeracy (P < .03) and writing (P = .13) scores. There was no evidence of a reading effect.

Conclusions: The attenuated age-related increases in percentage of body fat and enhanced numeracy development among elementary school children receiving PE from specialists provides support for the role of PE in both preventive medicine and academic development.

Figures

FIGURE 1—
FIGURE 1—
Changes in percentage of body fat over 2 years (grades 3–5) for the specialist-taught and the common-practice physical education groups, with adjustment for initial values: Canberra, Australia, 2006 and 2008. Note. PE = physical education. Data for boys and girls were combined. The effect is the value by which the specialist-taught group improved more than the common-practice group (effect = –0.66; SE = 0.260; P = .02). Bars represent means; lines represent SEs.
FIGURE 2—
FIGURE 2—
Changes in numeracy scores over 2 years (grades 3–5) for the specialist-taught and the common-practice PE groups, with adjustment for initial values: Canberra, Australia, 2006 and 2008. Note. PE = physical education. Data for boys and girls were combined. The effect is the value by which the specialist-taught group improved more than the common-practice group (effect = 10.9; SE = 4.9; P = .03). Bars represent means; lines represent SEs.

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