There are large social inequalities in health. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a family intervention on physical activity (PA) and sedentary time (ST) in children and their parents. In this controlled pilot study, all 8-9-year-old children from four schools from a socioeconomically disadvantaged area in Sweden were invited and 67 children and 94 parents were included. The intervention was run by a foundation in co-operation with the municipality. The 9-month program included: (1) activity sessions, (2) healthy meals, (3) health information and (4) parental support groups. PA was primary outcome and ST was secondary outcome, measured by accelerometry. In total, 40 of the children (60%) and 45 of the adults (50%) had at least one day of valid accelerometer data at both baseline and follow-up. Significant intervention effects for the whole group were found in total PA (p = 0.048, mean difference (MD) intervention/control 150 counts per minute) and in vigorous PA (p = 0.02, MD 8 min/day) during the weekends. There were no differences between groups in the other PA variables or ST. This pilot study shows that it is possible to influence PA in families from a disadvantaged area through a family program.
Keywords: accelerometers; fathers; health information; healthy meals; mothers; organized physical activity; parental support groups; school.