Objective: Physical activity has been shown to have a wide range of beneficial health effects, yet few youth meet the United States physical activity recommendation of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) everyday. The objective of this study was to determine whether physical activity patterns improved in a subsample of fourth-graders participating in the multicomponent intervention, the Shaping Healthy Choices Program (SHCP).
Methods: At pre- and post-intervention assessments, youth at the control and intervention schools wore a Polar Active monitor on their nondominant wrist 24 h/d for at least 2 consecutive days. Multiple linear regression was used to evaluate change in physical activity by adjusting for covariates and other potential confounders, including ethnicity/race, household income, and sex. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.
Results: Mean minutes of MVPA significantly increased at the intervention school (22.3 + 37.8; p = 0.01) and at the control school (29.1 + 49.5; p = 0.01). There were no significant differences in the change in MVPA between the schools. Youth at the intervention school significantly decreased mean minutes in sedentary activity compared to the controls (p = 0.02).
Conclusions: Youth who participated in the SHCP decreased time spent in sedentary activity and increased very vigorous physical activity from pre- to post-intervention, while these changes were not observed at the control school. The overall small physical activity intensity pattern shift supports that physical activity is an important area to target within a multicomponent nutrition intervention aimed at preventing childhood obesity.
Keywords: Nutrition education; accelerometer; children; physical activity; shaping healthy choices program.