Assessing the impact of school policy and systems improvements to increase physical activity opportunities in disadvantaged communities
Increasing physical activity during the school day is an important mechanism to combat childhood obesity. The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, in partnership with the Chula Vista Elementary School District, developed policies and systems to improve physical education (PE) curricula and increase physical activity (PA) opportunities for students during the school day through in-class PA breaks and physical activity during recess. This study compared 5th grade students in pre and post-intervention schools to evaluate the effect of these changes on students’ PA.
Using activity trackers, students’ steps per minute were collected during the school week at two pre-intervention and two post-intervention schools in fall 2014. Data were aggregated to the school-level to compare mean steps per student using independent samples t-tests. Peaks in steps per minute data were examined to identify added PA opportunities outside recess and PE class.
In the 209 students examined, mean steps per student during the week were significantly higher in post-intervention than pre-intervention schools (post-intervention=25,211 steps, pre-intervention=16,605 steps). Preliminary analysis on a subset of students in the post-intervention schools indicated that the in-class PA opportunities contributed to 20% of the daily step count.
Implementation of school policy and system improvements significantly increased PA in the intervention schools. The success of this intervention in providing additional opportunities for children to be active during the school day is especially important for communities where students have limited access to safe routes, open spaces, and recreation facilities outside school hours.
Learning Areas:Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Identify opportunities for school policy and systems changes to increase student physical activity during the school day. List strategies to evaluate levels of physical activity in elementary school students.
Keyword(s): Physical Activity, Child Health Promotion
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Epidemiologist with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. I have provided evaluation support for several federally funded grants focused on chronic disease prevention, and assisted with the data collection and analysis to evaluate this intervention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.