Acceptability and Potential Efficacy of Single-Sex After-School Activity Programs for Overweight and At-Risk Children: The Wollongong SPORT RCT

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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Objectives:

Single sex after-school physical activity programs show potential to prevent unhealthy weight gain. The aim of this study was to assess the acceptability and potential efficacy of single-sex after-school physical activity programs for overweight and at-risk children from low-income communities.

Design:

7-month, 2-arm parallel-group, RCT, conducted at an elementary school in a disadvantaged area in Wollongong, Australia (March-November 2010).

Methods:

20 boys and 17 girls were randomized to intervention (PA) or active comparison groups (HL). Primary outcomes included implementation, acceptability, percentage body fat and BMI z-score.

Results:

The PA programs were acceptable with high implementation and enjoyment rates. At 7 months postintervention girls in the PA group displayed greater changes in percentage body fat (adjust diff. = -1.70, [95% CI -3.25, -0.14]; d = -0.83) and BMI z-score (-0.19 [-0.36, -0.03]; d= -1.00). At 7 months boys in the PA group showed greater changes in waist circumference (-3.87 cm [-7.80, 0.15]; d= -0.90) and waist circumference z-score (-0.33 [-0.64, -0.03]; d= -0.98). For both boys’ and girls’ PA groups, changes in adiposity were not maintained at 12-month follow-up.

Conclusions:

Single-sex after-school physical activity programs are acceptable and potentially efficacious in preventing unhealthy weight gain among overweight and at-risk children. However improvements are hard to sustain once programs finish operating.

Jones, Kelly, Cliff, and Okely are with the Early Start Research Institute, School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Australia. Batterham is with the National Institute for Applied Statistics Research Australia, University of Wollongong, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Anthony D. Okely tokely@uow.edu.au.