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Marathon Kids® (MK) is a community and school-based program that promotes running, walking, and healthy eating in elementary school children. This study assessed the impact of MK on self-reported physical activity (PA), fruit and vegetable consumption (FVC), and related psycho-social factors in a sample of low-income, 4th- and 5th-grade students in Texas (n = 511). Intervention strategies included structured school running time, behavioral tracking, celebratory events, and rewards.
A quasi-experimental design with 5 intervention (MK) and 3 comparison schools was employed. Students were assessed at baseline in the fall and at 3 time points during 2008 to 09. Mixed-effect regression methods were used to model pooled means, adjusting for baseline and sociodemographic variables.
MK students reported a higher mean time of running in past 7 days compared with non-MK students (mean = 4.38 vs. 3.83, respectively. P = .002), with a standardized effect size of 0.16. Mean times of FVC (P = .008), athletic identity self-concept (P < .001), PA outcome expectations (P = .007), and PA and FVC self-efficacy (P < .001 and P = .02, respectively) were also higher in MK students. Fewer differences in social support were observed.
Findings provide further evidence on the importance of community and school partnerships for promoting PA and healthy eating in children.
Springer, Ranjit, Hochberg-Garrett, Crow, and Delk are with the Dept of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living, University of Texas School of Public Health at Austin, TX. Kelder is with the Dept of Epidemiology, Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living, University of Texas School of Public Health at Austin, TX.