Cost-effectiveness of physical activity intervention in children - results based on the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) study

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2021 Sep 6;18(1):116. doi: 10.1186/s12966-021-01181-0.


Background: We assessed the cost-effectiveness of a 2-year physical activity (PA) intervention combining family-based PA counselling and after-school exercise clubs in primary-school children compared to no intervention from an extended service payer's perspective.

Methods: The participants included 506 children (245 girls, 261 boys) allocated to an intervention group (306 children, 60 %) and a control group (200 children, 40 %). The children and their parents in the intervention group had six PA counselling visits, and the children also had the opportunity to participate in after-school exercise clubs. The control group received verbal and written advice on health-improving PA at baseline. A change in total PA over two years was used as the outcome measure. Intervention costs included those related to the family-based PA counselling, the after-school exercise clubs, and the parents' taking time off to travel to and participate in the counselling. The cost-effectiveness analyses were performed using the intention-to-treat principle. The costs per increased PA hour (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio, ICER) were based on net monetary benefit (NMB) regression adjusted for baseline PA and background variables. The results are presented with NMB and cost-effectiveness acceptability curves.

Results: Over two years, total PA increased on average by 108 h in the intervention group (95 % confidence interval [CI] from 95 to 121, p < 0.001) and decreased by 65.5 h (95 % CI from 81.7 to 48.3, p < 0.001) in the control group, the difference being 173.7 h. the incremental effectiveness was 87 (173/2) hours. For two years, the intervention costs were €619 without parents' time use costs and €860 with these costs. The costs per increased PA hour were €6.21 without and €8.62 with these costs. The willingness to pay required for 95 % probability of cost-effectiveness was €14 and €19 with these costs. The sensitivity analyses revealed that the ICER without assuming this linear change in PA were €3.10 and €4.31.

Conclusions: The PA intervention would be cost-effective compared to no intervention among children if the service payer's willingness-to-pay for a 1-hour increase in PA is €8.62 with parents' time costs.

Trial registration: NCT01803776. Registered 4 March 2013 - Retrospectively registered, .

Keywords: Children; Cost-effectiveness; Family; Intervention; Multicomponent; Net monetary benefit; Physical activity; School.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Schools

Associated data