Background: The WHO calls for affordable population-based prevention strategies for reducing the global burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) on morbidity and mortality; however, effective, sustainable and accessible community-based approaches for CVD prevention in at-risk youth have yet to be identified. We examined the effects of implementing a daily park-based afterschool fitness programme on youth CVD risk profiles over 5 years and across area poverty subgroups.
Methods: The study included 2264 youth (mean age 9.4 years, 54% male, 50% Hispanic, 47% non-Hispanic black, 70% high/very high area poverty) in Miami, Florida, USA. We used three-level repeated measures mixed models to determine the longitudinal effects of programme participation on modifiable CVD outcomes (2010-2016).
Results: Duration of programme participation was significantly associated with CVD risk profile improvements, including body mass index (BMI) z-score, diastolic/systolic blood pressure, skinfold thicknesses, waist-hip ratio, sit-ups, push-ups, Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) score, 400 m run time, probability of developing systolic/diastolic hypertension and overweight/obesity in high/very high poverty neighbourhoods (P<0.001). Diastolic blood pressure decreased 3.4 percentile points (95% CI -5.85 to -0.85), 8.1 percentile points (95% CI -11.98 to -4.26), 6.1 percentile points (95% CI -11.49 to -0.66), 7.6 percentile points (95% CI -15.33 to -0.15) and 11.4 percentile points (95% CI -25.32 to 2.61) for 1-5 years, respectively, in high/very high poverty areas. In contrast, significant improvements were found only for PACER score and waist-hip ratio in low/mid poverty areas.
Conclusion: This analysis presents compelling evidence demonstrating that park-based afterschool programmes can successfully maintain or improve at-risk youth CVD profiles over multiple years.
Keywords: cardiovascular disease; child health; health inequalities; physical activity; poverty.
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