Gender Differences in Response to a Physical Activity Intervention in Overweight and Obese Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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This study evaluated the effects of gender on response to a behavioral intervention that rewarded increases in physical activity (PA) with increases in access to TV viewing.


We performed a secondary analysis of a clinical trial that randomized 30 overweight or obese, 8- to 12-year-old children to an intervention (8 boys, 6 girls) or control (7 boys, 9 girls) group. Participants wore accelerometers every day for 8 weeks and attended biweekly meetings to download the activity monitors. For the intervention group, accumulating 400 counts of PA on accelerometers earned 1 hour of TV time, which was controlled by a Token TV electronic device. Controls wore activity monitors but had free access to T V.


Compared with girls, boys in the intervention group exhibited greater increases in overall daily PA counts (110% versus 40%, P < .05) and minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; +18.1 versus +2.7, P < .05). Neither boys nor girls in the control group showed significant changes in overall PA or intensity of PA.


Wearing an accelerometer in combination with rewarding PA with TV might be a more effective intervention for increasing overall PA and time spent in MVPA in overweight and obese boys than it is for overweight or obese girls.

Goldfield, Mallory, and Adamo are with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1H 8L1. Goldfield is also with the Dept of Psychology, Carleton University, and the School of Human Kinetics and Dept of Paediatrics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada. Prud’homme is with the School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, ON, Canada K1H 8M5.