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1.  Associations between Active Travel to Work and Overweight, Hypertension, and Diabetes in India: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001459.
Using data from the Indian Migration Study, Christopher Millett and colleagues examine the associations between active travel to work and overweight, hypertension, and diabetes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Increasing active travel (walking, bicycling, and public transport) is promoted as a key strategy to increase physical activity and reduce the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) globally. Little is known about patterns of active travel or associated cardiovascular health benefits in low- and middle-income countries. This study examines mode and duration of travel to work in rural and urban India and associations between active travel and overweight, hypertension, and diabetes.
Methods and Findings
Cross-sectional study of 3,902 participants (1,366 rural, 2,536 urban) in the Indian Migration Study. Associations between mode and duration of active travel and cardiovascular risk factors were assessed using random-effect logistic regression models adjusting for age, sex, caste, standard of living, occupation, factory location, leisure time physical activity, daily fat intake, smoking status, and alcohol use. Rural dwellers were significantly more likely to bicycle (68.3% versus 15.9%; p<0.001) to work than urban dwellers. The prevalence of overweight or obesity was 50.0%, 37.6%, 24.2%, 24.9%; hypertension was 17.7%, 11.8%, 6.5%, 9.8%; and diabetes was 10.8%, 7.4%, 3.8%, 7.3% in participants who travelled to work by private transport, public transport, bicycling, and walking, respectively. In the adjusted analysis, those walking (adjusted risk ratio [ARR] 0.72; 95% CI 0.58–0.88) or bicycling to work (ARR 0.66; 95% CI 0.55–0.77) were significantly less likely to be overweight or obese than those travelling by private transport. Those bicycling to work were significantly less likely to have hypertension (ARR 0.51; 95% CI 0.36–0.71) or diabetes (ARR 0.65; 95% CI 0.44–0.95). There was evidence of a dose-response relationship between duration of bicycling to work and being overweight, having hypertension or diabetes. The main limitation of the study is the cross-sectional design, which limits causal inference for the associations found.
Conclusions
Walking and bicycling to work was associated with reduced cardiovascular risk in the Indian population. Efforts to increase active travel in urban areas and halt declines in rural areas should be integral to strategies to maintain healthy weight and prevent NCDs in India.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and obesity (excessive body fat) are major threats to global health. Every year, more than 36 million people (including 29 million in LMICs) die from NCDs—nearly two-thirds of the world's annual deaths. Cardiovascular diseases (conditions that affect the heart and the circulation), diabetes, cancer, and respiratory diseases are responsible for most NCD-related deaths. Obesity is a risk factor for all these NCDs and the global prevalence of obesity (the proportion of the world's population that is obese) has nearly doubled since 1980. In 2008, 35% of adults were overweight and 11% were obese. One reason for the growing burden of both obesity and NCDs is increasing physical inactivity. Regular physical activity helps to maintain a healthy body weight and to prevent or delay the onset of NCDs. For an adult, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity—walking briskly or cycling, for example—five times a week is sufficient to promote and maintain health. But the daily lives of people in both developed and developing countries are becoming increasingly sedentary and, nowadays, at least 60% of the world's population does not do even this modest amount of exercise.
Why Was This Study Done?
Strategies to increase physical activity levels often promote active travel (walking, cycling, and using public transport). The positive impact of active travel on physical activity levels and cardiovascular health is well established in high-income countries, but little is known about the patterns of active travel or the health benefits associated with active travel in poorer countries. In this cross-sectional study (an investigation that measures population characteristics at a single time point), the researchers examine the mode and duration of travel to work in rural and urban India and associations between active travel and overweight/obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease), and diabetes. In India, a lower middle-income country, the prevalence of overweight and NCDs is projected to increase rapidly over the next two decades. Moreover, rapid unplanned urbanization and a large increase in registered motor vehicles has resulted in inadequate development of the public transport infrastructure and hazardous conditions for walking and cycling in most Indian towns and cities.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their study, researchers analyzed physical activity and health data collected from participants in the Indian Migration Study, which examined the association between migration from rural to urban areas and obesity and diabetes risk. People living in rural areas were more likely to cycle to work than people living in towns and cities (68.3% versus 15.9%). Among people who travelled to work by private transport, public transport, walking, and cycling, the prevalence of overweight or obesity was 50.0%, 37.6%, 24.9%, and 24.2%, respectively. Similar patterns were seen for the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes. After adjustment for factors that affect the risk of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes (for example, daily fat intake and leisure time physical activity), people walking or cycling to work were less likely to be overweight or obese than those travelling by public transport, and those cycling to walk were less likely to have hypertension or diabetes. Finally, people with long cycle rides to work had a lower risk of being overweight or having hypertension or diabetes than people with short cycle rides.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, as in high-income settings, walking and cycling to work are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in India. Because this was a cross-sectional study, these findings do not prove that active travel reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease—people who cycle to work may share other unknown characteristics that are actually responsible for their reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, this study did not consider non-cardiovascular outcomes associated with active travel that might affect health such as increased exposure to air pollution. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that programs designed to maintain healthy weight and prevent NCDs in India should endeavor to increase active travel in urban areas and to halt declines in rural areas by, for example, increasing investment in public transport and improving the safety and convenience of walking and cycling routes in urban areas.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001459.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Kavi Bhalla
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of healthy living, on chronic diseases and health promotion, on overweight and obesity and on non-communicable diseases around the world; its Physical Activity for Everyone web pages include guidelines, instructional videos and personal success stories (some information in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization provides information about physical activity and health, about obesity, and about non-communicable diseases (in several languages); its 2010 Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health are available in several languages; its Global Noncommunicable Disease Network (NCDnet) aims to help low- and middle- income countries reduce NCD-related illnesses and death through implementation of the 20082013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (also available in French); Face to face with chronic diseases is a selection of personal stories from around the world about dealing with NCDs
The American Heart Association provides information on many important risk factors for non-communicable diseases and provides tips for becoming more active
Information about the Indian Migration Study is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001459
PMCID: PMC3679004  PMID: 23776412
2.  The Effect of Rural-to-Urban Migration on Obesity and Diabetes in India: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(4):e1000268.
Shah Ebrahim and colleagues examine the distribution of obesity, diabetes, and other cardiovascular risk factors among urban migrant factory workers in India, together with their rural siblings. The investigators identify patterns of change of cardiovascular risk factors associated with urban migration.
Background
Migration from rural areas of India contributes to urbanisation and may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. We tested the hypotheses that rural-to-urban migrants have a higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes than rural nonmigrants, that migrants would have an intermediate prevalence of obesity and diabetes compared with life-long urban and rural dwellers, and that longer time since migration would be associated with a higher prevalence of obesity and of diabetes.
Methods and Findings
The place of origin of people working in factories in north, central, and south India was identified. Migrants of rural origin, their rural dwelling sibs, and those of urban origin together with their urban dwelling sibs were assessed by interview, examination, and fasting blood samples. Obesity, diabetes, and other cardiovascular risk factors were compared. A total of 6,510 participants (42% women) were recruited. Among urban, migrant, and rural men the age- and factory-adjusted percentages classified as obese (body mass index [BMI] >25 kg/m2) were 41.9% (95% confidence interval [CI] 39.1–44.7), 37.8% (95% CI 35.0–40.6), and 19.0% (95% CI 17.0–21.0), respectively, and as diabetic were 13.5% (95% CI 11.6–15.4), 14.3% (95% CI 12.2–16.4), and 6.2% (95% CI 5.0–7.4), respectively. Findings for women showed similar patterns. Rural men had lower blood pressure, lipids, and fasting blood glucose than urban and migrant men, whereas no differences were seen in women. Among migrant men, but not women, there was weak evidence for a lower prevalence of both diabetes and obesity among more recent (≤10 y) migrants.
Conclusions
Migration into urban areas is associated with increases in obesity, which drive other risk factor changes. Migrants have adopted modes of life that put them at similar risk to the urban population. Gender differences in some risk factors by place of origin are unexpected and require further exploration.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
India, like the rest of the world, is experiencing an epidemic of diabetes, a chronic disease characterized by dangerous levels of sugar in the blood that cause cardiovascular and kidney disease, which lower life expectancy. The prevalence of diabetes (the proportion of the population with diabetes) has been increasing steadily in India over recent decades, particularly in urban areas. In 1984, only 5% of adults living in the towns and cities of India had diabetes, but by 2004, 15% of adults in urban areas were affected by diabetes. In rural areas of India, diabetes is less common than in urban areas but even here, the prevalence of diabetes is now 6%. Obesity—too much body fat—is a major risk factor for diabetes and, in parallel with the greater increase in diabetes in urban India compared to rural India, there has been a greater increase in obesity in urban areas than in rural areas.
Why Was This Study Done?
Experts think that the increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes in India (and in other developing countries) is caused in part by increased consumption of saturated fats and sugars and by reduced physical activity, and that these changes are related to urbanization—urban expansion into the countryside and migration from rural to urban areas. If living in an urban setting is a major determinant of obesity and diabetes risk, then people migrating into urban areas should acquire the high risk of the urban population for these two conditions. In this cross-sectional study (a study in which participants are studied at a single time point), the researchers investigate whether rural to urban migrants in India have a higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes than rural nonmigrants. They also ask whether migrants have a prevalence of obesity and diabetes intermediate between that of life-long urban and rural dwellers and whether a longer time since migration is associated with a higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited rural-urban migrants working in four Indian factories in north, central, and south regions and their spouses (if they were living in the same town) into their study. Each migrant worker and spouse asked one nonmigrant brother or sister (sibling) still living in their place of origin to join the study. The researchers also enrolled nonmigrant factory workers and their urban siblings into the study. All the participants (more than 6,500 in total) answered questions about their diet and physical activity and had their fasting blood sugar and their body mass index (BMI; weight in kg divided by height in meters squared) measured; participants with a fasting blood sugar of more than 7.0 nmol/l or a BMI of more than 25 kg/m2 were classified as diabetic or obese, respectively. 41.9% and 37.8% of the urban and migrant men, respectively, but only 19.0% of the rural men were obese. Similarly, 13.5% and 14.3% of the urban and migrant men, respectively, but only 6.2% of the rural men had diabetes. Patterns of obesity and diabetes among the women participants were similar. Finally, although the prevalence of diabetes and obesity was lower in the most recent male migrants than in those who had moved more than 10 years previously, this difference was small and not seen in women migrants.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that rural-urban migration in India is associated with rapid increases in obesity and in diabetes. They also show that the migrants have adopted modes of life (for example, reduced physical activity) that put them at a similar risk for obesity and diabetes as the urban population. The findings do not show, however, that migrants have an intermediate prevalence of obesity and diabetes compared to urban and rural dwellers and provide only weak support for the idea that a longer time since migration is associated with a higher risk of obesity and diabetes. Although the study's cross-sectional design means that the researchers could not investigate how risk factors for diabetes evolve over time, these findings suggest that urbanization is helping to drive the diabetes epidemic in India. Thus, targeting migrants and their families for health promotion activities and for treatment of risk factors for obesity and diabetes might help to slow the progress of the epidemic.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000268.
The International Diabetes Federation provides information about all aspects of diabetes, including information on diabetes in Southeast Asia (in English, French, and Spanish)
DiabetesIndia.com provides information on the Indian Task Forces on diabetes care in India
Diabetes Foundation (India) has an international collaborative research focus and provides information about health promotion for diabetes; it has also produced consensus guidelines on dietary change for prevention of diabetes in India
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides detailed information about diabetes for patients, health care professionals, and the general public (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000268
PMCID: PMC2860494  PMID: 20436961
3.  Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions to Promote Physical Activity: A Modelling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(7):e1000110.
Linda Cobiac and colleagues model the costs and health outcomes associated with interventions to improve physical activity in the population, and identify specific interventions that are likely to be cost-saving.
Background
Physical inactivity is a key risk factor for chronic disease, but a growing number of people are not achieving the recommended levels of physical activity necessary for good health. Australians are no exception; despite Australia's image as a sporting nation, with success at the elite level, the majority of Australians do not get enough physical activity. There are many options for intervention, from individually tailored advice, such as counselling from a general practitioner, to population-wide approaches, such as mass media campaigns, but the most cost-effective mix of interventions is unknown. In this study we evaluate the cost-effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity.
Methods and Findings
From evidence of intervention efficacy in the physical activity literature and evaluation of the health sector costs of intervention and disease treatment, we model the cost impacts and health outcomes of six physical activity interventions, over the lifetime of the Australian population. We then determine cost-effectiveness of each intervention against current practice for physical activity intervention in Australia and derive the optimal pathway for implementation. Based on current evidence of intervention effectiveness, the intervention programs that encourage use of pedometers (Dominant) and mass media-based community campaigns (Dominant) are the most cost-effective strategies to implement and are very likely to be cost-saving. The internet-based intervention program (AUS$3,000/DALY), the GP physical activity prescription program (AUS$12,000/DALY), and the program to encourage more active transport (AUS$20,000/DALY), although less likely to be cost-saving, have a high probability of being under a AUS$50,000 per DALY threshold. GP referral to an exercise physiologist (AUS$79,000/DALY) is the least cost-effective option if high time and travel costs for patients in screening and consulting an exercise physiologist are considered.
Conclusions
Intervention to promote physical activity is recommended as a public health measure. Despite substantial variability in the quantity and quality of evidence on intervention effectiveness, and uncertainty about the long-term sustainability of behavioural changes, it is highly likely that as a package, all six interventions could lead to substantial improvement in population health at a cost saving to the health sector.
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The human body needs regular physical activity throughout life to stay healthy. Physical activity—any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that uses energy—helps to maintain a healthy body weight and to prevent or delay heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and breast cancer. In addition, physically active people feel better and live longer than physically inactive people. For an adult, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity—walking briskly, gardening, swimming, or cycling—at least five times a week is sufficient to promote and maintain health. But at least 60% of the world's population does not do even this modest amount of physical activity. The daily lives of people in both developed and developing countries are becoming increasingly sedentary. People are sitting at desks all day instead of doing manual labor; they are driving to work in cars instead of walking or cycling; and they are participating less in physical activities during their leisure time.
Why Was This Study Done?
In many countries, the chronic diseases that are associated with physical inactivity are now a major public-health problem; globally, physical inactivity causes 1.9 million deaths per year. Clearly, something has to be done about this situation. Luckily, there is no shortage of interventions designed to promote physical activity, ranging from individual counseling from general practitioners to mass-media campaigns. But which intervention or package of interventions will produce the optimal population health benefits relative to cost? Although some studies have examined the cost-effectiveness of individual interventions, different settings for analysis and use of different methods and assumptions make it difficult to compare results and identify which intervention approaches should be give priority by policy makers. Furthermore, little is known about the cost-effectiveness of packages of interventions. In this study, the researchers investigate the cost-effectiveness in Australia (where physical inactivity contributes to 10% of deaths) of a package of interventions designed to promote physical activity in adults using a standardized approach (ACE-Prevention) to the assessment of the cost-effectiveness of health-care interventions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers selected six interventions for their study: general practitioner “prescription” of physical activity; general practitioner referral to an exercise physiologist; a mass-media campaign to promote physical activity; the TravelSmart car use reduction program; a campaign to encourage the use of pedometers to increase physical activity; and an internet-based program. Using published data on the effects of physical activity on the amount of illness and death caused by breast and colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and on the effectiveness of each intervention, the researchers calculated the health outcomes of each intervention in disability-adjusted life years (DALY; a year of healthy life lost because of premature death or disability) averted over the lifetime of the Australian population. They also calculated the costs associated with each intervention offset by the costs associated with the five conditions listed above. These analyses showed that the pedometer program and the mass-media campaign were likely to be the most cost-effective interventions. These interventions were also most likely to be cost-saving. Referral to an exercise physiologist was the least cost-effective intervention. The other three interventions, though unlikely to be cost-saving, were likely to be cost-effective. Finally, a package of all six interventions would be cost-effective and would avert 61,000 DALYs, a third of what could be achieved if every Australian did 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As in all modeling studies, these findings depend on the quality of the data and on the assumptions included by the researchers in their calculations. Unfortunately, there was substantial variability in the quantity and quality of evidence on the effectiveness of each intervention and uncertainty about the long-term effects of each intervention. Nevertheless, the findings presented in this study suggest that the assessment of the cost-effectiveness of a combination of interventions designed to promote physical activity might provide policy makers with some guidance about the best way to reduce the burden of disease caused by physical inactivity. More specifically, for Australia, these findings suggest that the package of the six interventions considered here is likely to provide a cost-effective way to substantially improve the health of the nation.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000110.
The World Health Organization provides information about physical activity and health (in several languages); it also provides an explanation of DALYs
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on physical activity for different age groups and for health professionals
The UK National Health Service information source Choices also explains the benefits of regular physical activity
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about exercise and physical fitness (in English and Spanish)
The University of Queensland Web site has more information on ACE-Prevention (Assessing Cost-Effectiveness Prevention)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000110
PMCID: PMC2700960  PMID: 19597537
4.  Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(11):e1001335.
Analyzing data from over 650,000 individuals, Dr. Steven Moore and colleagues report that greater amounts of leisure-time physical activity were associated with higher life expectancy across a wide range of activity levels and body mass index groups.
Background
Leisure time physical activity reduces the risk of premature mortality, but the years of life expectancy gained at different levels remains unclear. Our objective was to determine the years of life gained after age 40 associated with various levels of physical activity, both overall and according to body mass index (BMI) groups, in a large pooled analysis.
Methods and Findings
We examined the association of leisure time physical activity with mortality during follow-up in pooled data from six prospective cohort studies in the National Cancer Institute Cohort Consortium, comprising 654,827 individuals, 21–90 y of age. Physical activity was categorized by metabolic equivalent hours per week (MET-h/wk). Life expectancies and years of life gained/lost were calculated using direct adjusted survival curves (for participants 40+ years of age), with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) derived by bootstrap. The study includes a median 10 y of follow-up and 82,465 deaths. A physical activity level of 0.1–3.74 MET-h/wk, equivalent to brisk walking for up to 75 min/wk, was associated with a gain of 1.8 (95% CI: 1.6–2.0) y in life expectancy relative to no leisure time activity (0 MET-h/wk). Higher levels of physical activity were associated with greater gains in life expectancy, with a gain of 4.5 (95% CI: 4.3–4.7) y at the highest level (22.5+ MET-h/wk, equivalent to brisk walking for 450+ min/wk). Substantial gains were also observed in each BMI group. In joint analyses, being active (7.5+ MET-h/wk) and normal weight (BMI 18.5–24.9) was associated with a gain of 7.2 (95% CI: 6.5–7.9) y of life compared to being inactive (0 MET-h/wk) and obese (BMI 35.0+). A limitation was that physical activity and BMI were ascertained by self report.
Conclusions
More leisure time physical activity was associated with longer life expectancy across a range of activity levels and BMI groups.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Regular physical activity is essential for human health. It helps to maintain a healthy body weight and prevents or delays heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. It also makes people feel better and increases life expectancy. The World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every week. Moderate-intensity physical activities (for example, brisk walking and gardening) require a moderate amount of effort and noticeably increase the heart rate; vigorous-intensity physical activities (for example, running or fast swimming) require a large amount of effort and cause rapid breathing and a substantial heart rate increase. Worryingly, people in both developed and developing countries are becoming increasingly physically inactive. People are sitting at desks all day instead of doing manual labor; they are driving to work in cars instead of walking or cycling; and they are participating in fewer leisure time physical activities.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although various studies suggest that physical activity increases life expectancy, few have quantified the years of life gained at distinct levels of physical activity. Moreover, the difference in life expectancy between active, overweight individuals and inactive, normal weight individuals has not been quantified. Thus, it is hard to develop a simple public health message to maximize the population benefits of physical activity. In this pooled prospective cohort analysis, the researchers determine the association between levels of leisure time physical activities, such as recreational walking, and years of life gained after age 40, both overall and within body mass index (BMI) groups. A pooled prospective cohort analysis analyzes the combined data from multiple studies that have followed groups of people to investigate associations between baseline characteristics and outcomes such as death. BMI is a ratio of weight to height, calculated by dividing a person's weight by their height squared; normal weight is defined as a BMI of 18.5–24.9 kg/m2, obesity (excessive body fat) is defined as a BMI of more than 30 kg/m2.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pooled self-reported data on leisure time physical activities and BMIs from nearly 650,000 individuals over the age of 40 years enrolled in one Swedish and five US prospective cohort studies, most of which were investigating associations between lifestyle factors and disease risk. They used these and other data to calculate the gain in life expectancy associated with specific levels of physical activity. A physical activity level equivalent to brisk walking for up to 75 minutes per week was associated with a gain of 1.8 years in life expectancy relative to no leisure time activity. Being active—having a physical activity level at or above the WHO-recommended minimum of 150 minutes of brisk walking per week—was associated with an overall gain of life expectancy of 3.4–4.5 years. Gains in life expectancy were seen also for black individuals and former smokers, groups for whom relatively few data had been previously available. The physical activity and life expectancy association was also evident at all BMI levels. Being active and normal weight was associated with a gain of 7.2 years of life compared to being inactive and class II+ obese (having a BMI of more than 35.0 kg/m2). However, being inactive but normal weight was associated with 3.1 fewer years of life compared to being active but class I obese (having a BMI of 30–34.9 kg/m2).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that participation in leisure time physical activity, even below the recommended level, is associated with a reduced risk of mortality compared to participation in no leisure time physical activity. This result may help convince currently inactive people that a modest physical activity program may have health benefits, even if it does not result in weight loss. The findings also suggest that physical activity at recommended levels or higher may increase longevity further, and that a lack of leisure time physical activity may markedly reduce life expectancy when combined with obesity. Although the accuracy and generalizability of these findings may be limited by certain aspects of the study's design (for example, some study participants may have overestimated their leisure time physical activity), these findings reinforce the public health message that both a physically active lifestyle and a normal body weight are important for increasing longevity.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001335.
The World Health Organization provides information about physical activity and health (in several languages); its 2010 Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health is available in several languages
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on physical activity for different age groups; its Physical Activity for Everyone webpages include guidelines, instructional videos, and personal success stories
The UK National Health Service information source NHS Choices also explains the benefits of regular physical activity and includes physical activity guidelines, tips for exercising, and some personal stories
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about exercise and physical fitness (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001335
PMCID: PMC3491006  PMID: 23139642
5.  Effect of a Nutrition Supplement and Physical Activity Program on Pneumonia and Walking Capacity in Chilean Older People: A Factorial Cluster Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001023.
Alan Dangour and colleagues report results from the CENEX (Cost-effectiveness Evaluation of a Nutritional supplement and EXercise program for older people) trial, which evaluates a nutritional and exercise program aiming to prevent pneumonia and physical decline in Chilean people.
Background
Ageing is associated with increased risk of poor health and functional decline. Uncertainties about the health-related benefits of nutrition and physical activity for older people have precluded their widespread implementation. We investigated the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a national nutritional supplementation program and/or a physical activity intervention among older people in Chile.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster randomized factorial trial among low to middle socioeconomic status adults aged 65–67.9 years living in Santiago, Chile. We randomized 28 clusters (health centers) into the study and recruited 2,799 individuals in 2005 (∼100 per cluster). The interventions were a daily micronutrient-rich nutritional supplement, or two 1-hour physical activity classes per week, or both interventions, or neither, for 24 months. The primary outcomes, assessed blind to allocation, were incidence of pneumonia over 24 months, and physical function assessed by walking capacity 24 months after enrolment. Adherence was good for the nutritional supplement (∼75%), and moderate for the physical activity intervention (∼43%). Over 24 months the incidence rate of pneumonia did not differ between intervention and control clusters (32.5 versus 32.6 per 1,000 person years respectively; risk ratio = 1.00; 95% confidence interval 0.61–1.63; p = 0.99). In intention-to-treat analysis, after 24 months there was a significant difference in walking capacity between the intervention and control clusters (mean difference 33.8 meters; 95% confidence interval 13.9–53.8; p = 0.001). The overall cost of the physical activity intervention over 24 months was US$164/participant; equivalent to US$4.84/extra meter walked. The number of falls and fractures was balanced across physical activity intervention arms and no serious adverse events were reported for either intervention.
Conclusions
Chile's nutritional supplementation program for older people is not effective in reducing the incidence of pneumonia. This trial suggests that the provision of locally accessible physical activity classes in a transition economy population can be a cost-effective means of enhancing physical function in later life.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN 48153354
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
By 2050, about a quarter of the world's population will be aged 60 years or over, with Asia and Latin America experiencing the most dramatic increases in the proportion of older people. For example, in Chile, which has recently undergone rapid demographic transition, the proportion of the population aged 60 years or over has increased from 8% to 12% over the past 25 years.
Current global policy initiatives that promote healthy ageing include an emphasis on adequate nutrient intakes, as longitudinal studies (conducted in high-income countries) suggest that achieving nutritional sufficiency and maintaining moderate levels of physical activity both decrease risk of mortality by preserving immune function and lean body mass and so reduce the numerous risk factors for disability and chronic disease in later life. Such interventions may also decrease the risk of infection, particularly pneumonia, a common cause of death in older people. However, older people in low- and middle-income countries frequently have diets with insufficient calories (energy) and/or micronutrients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, there is no high-quality evidence to support the benefits of improved nutrition and increased physical activity levels from low-income or transition economies, where the ongoing demographic trends suggest that the needs are greatest. National policies aimed at preserving health and function in older people with interventions such as cash-transfers and provision of “food baskets” are often used in Latin American countries, such as Chile, but are rarely formally evaluated. Therefore, the purpose of this study (the Cost-effectiveness Evaluation of a Nutritional supplement and EXercise program for older people—CENEX) was to evaluate Chile's national nutritional supplementation program and/or physical exercise, to investigate whether this program prevented pneumonia and physical functional decline in older people in Santiago, and also to investigate whether these interventions were cost-effective.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly allocated 28 participating health centers in Santiago, Chile, into one of four arms: (1) nutritional supplementation; (2) nutritional supplementation+physical activity; (3) physical activity alone; (4) control. From May to December 2005, 2,799 eligible adults aged 65–67.9 years and living in low to middle socioeconomic circumstances, who attended each health center, were recruited into the study and received the allocated intervention—daily micronutrient-rich nutritional supplement, or two 1-hour physical activity classes per week, or both interventions or neither—for 24 months. The researchers did not know the allocation arm of each patient and over the course of the study assessed the incidence of pneumonia (viral and bacterial as based on diagnosis at the health center or hospital) and physical function was measured by walking capacity (meters walked in 6 minutes). The researchers used administrative records and interviews with staff and patients to estimate the cost-effectiveness of the interventions.
Participant retention in the study was 84%, although only three-quarters of patients receiving the nutritional intervention and less than half (43%) of patients in the physical activity intervention arm adhered to their respective programs. Over 24 months, the incidence rate of pneumonia did not differ between intervention and control groups (32.5 versus 32.6 per 1,000 person years, respectively), but at the end of the study period, there was a significant difference in walking capacity between the intervention and control clusters (mean difference 33.8 meters). The number of falls and fractures in the study arms were similar. The overall costs over 24 months were US$91.00 and US$163.70 per participant for the nutritional supplement and physical activity interventions, respectively. The cost of the physical activity intervention per extra meter walked at 24 months was US$4.84.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this trial suggest that there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of Chile's national nutritional supplementation program in reducing the incidence of pneumonia for 65.0–67.9 year olds. Therefore, given Chile's high burden of infectious and nutrition-related chronic diseases and the associated high health costs, this program should not be considered as a priority preventive public health intervention. However, the provision of locally available physical activity classes to older people could be of clinical benefit, especially in urban settings such as Santiago, although future challenges include increasing the uptake of, and retention to, such programs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001023.
The World Health Organization provides information about the state of health in Chile
Wikipedia also provides information about health and health care in Chile (please note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001023
PMCID: PMC3079648  PMID: 21526229
6.  Muscle-Strengthening and Conditioning Activities and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Prospective Study in Two Cohorts of US Women 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001587.
Anders Grøntved and colleagues examined whether women who perform muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities have an associated reduced risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
It is well established that aerobic physical activity can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), but whether muscle-strengthening activities are beneficial for the prevention of T2D is unclear. This study examined the association of muscle-strengthening activities with the risk of T2D in women.
Methods and Findings
We prospectively followed up 99,316 middle-aged and older women for 8 years from the Nurses' Health Study ([NHS] aged 53–81 years, 2000–2008) and Nurses' Health Study II ([NHSII] aged 36–55 years, 2001–2009), who were free of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases at baseline. Participants reported weekly time spent on resistance exercise, lower intensity muscular conditioning exercises (yoga, stretching, toning), and aerobic moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at baseline and in 2004/2005. Cox regression with adjustment for major determinants for T2D was carried out to examine the influence of these types of activities on T2D risk. During 705,869 person years of follow-up, 3,491 incident T2D cases were documented. In multivariable adjusted models including aerobic MVPA, the pooled relative risk (RR) for T2D for women performing 1–29, 30–59, 60–150, and >150 min/week of total muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities was 0.83, 0.93, 0.75, and 0.60 compared to women reporting no muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities (p<0.001 for trend). Furthermore, resistance exercise and lower intensity muscular conditioning exercises were each independently associated with lower risk of T2D in pooled analyses. Women who engaged in at least 150 min/week of aerobic MVPA and at least 60 min/week of muscle-strengthening activities had substantial risk reduction compared with inactive women (pooled RR = 0.33 [95% CI 0.29–0.38]). Limitations to the study include that muscle-strengthening and conditioning activity and other types of physical activity were assessed by a self-administered questionnaire and that the study population consisted of registered nurses with mostly European ancestry.
Conclusions
Our study suggests that engagement in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities (resistance exercise, yoga, stretching, toning) is associated with a lower risk of T2D. Engagement in both aerobic MVPA and muscle-strengthening type activity is associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of T2D in middle-aged and older women.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, more than 370 million people have diabetes mellitus, a disorder characterized by poor glycemic control—dangerously high amounts of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas. In people with type 2 diabetes (the commonest form of diabetes), blood sugar control fails because the fat and muscle cells that normally respond to insulin by removing excess sugar from the blood become less responsive to insulin. Type 2 diabetes, which was previously known as adult-onset diabetes, can often initially be controlled with diet and exercise, and with antidiabetic drugs such as metformin and sulfonylureas. However, as the disease progresses, the pancreatic beta cells, which make insulin, become impaired and patients may eventually need insulin injections. Long-term complications of diabetes, which include an increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke, reduce the life expectancy of people with diabetes by about 10 years compared to people without diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common worldwide so better preventative strategies are essential. It is well-established that regular aerobic exercise—physical activity in which the breathing and heart rate increase noticeably such as jogging, brisk walking, and swimming—lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organization currently recommends that adults should do at least 150 min/week of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity to reduce the risk of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. It also recommends that adults should undertake muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities such as weight training and yoga on two or more days a week. However, although studies have shown that muscle-strengthening activity improves glycemic control in people who already have diabetes, it is unclear whether this form of exercise prevents diabetes. In this prospective cohort study (a study in which disease development is followed up over time in a group of people whose characteristics are recorded at baseline), the researchers investigated the association of muscle-strengthening activities with the risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers followed up nearly 100,000 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and the Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII), two prospective US investigations into risk factors for chronic diseases in women, for 8 years. The women provided information on weekly participation in muscle-strengthening exercise (for example, weight training), lower intensity muscle-conditioning exercises (for example, yoga and toning), and aerobic moderate and vigorous physical activity (aerobic MVPA) at baseline and 4 years later. During the study 3,491 women developed diabetes. After allowing for major risk factors for type 2 diabetes (for example, diet and a family history of diabetes) and for aerobic MVPA, compared to women who did no muscle-strengthening or conditioning exercise, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes among women declined with increasing participation in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activity. Notably, women who did more than 150 min/week of these types of exercise had 40% lower risk of developing diabetes as women who did not exercise in this way at all. Muscle-strengthening and muscle-conditioning exercise were both independently associated with reduced diabetes risk, and women who engaged in at least 150 min/week of aerobic MVPA and at least 60 min/week of muscle-strengthening exercise were a third as likely to develop diabetes as inactive women.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, among the women enrolled in NHS and NHSII, engagement in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes independent of aerobic MVPA. That is, non-aerobic exercise provided protection against diabetes in women who did no aerobic exercise. Importantly, they also show that doing both aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening exercise substantially reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes. Because nearly all the participants in NHS and NHSII were of European ancestry, these results may not be generalizable to women of other ethnic backgrounds. Moreover, the accuracy of these findings may be limited by the use of self-administered questionnaires to determine how much exercise the women undertook. Nevertheless, these findings support the inclusion of muscle-strengthening and conditioning exercises in strategies designed to prevent type 2 diabetes in women, a conclusion that is consistent with current guidelines for physical activity among adults.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001587.
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health-care professionals and the general public, including information on diabetes prevention (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes and explains the benefits of regular physical activity
The World Health Organization provides information about diabetes and about physical activity and health (in several languages); its 2010 Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health are available in several languages
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on physical activity for different age groups; its Physical Activity for Everyone web pages include guidelines, instructional videos and personal success stories
More information about the Nurses Health Study and the Nurses Health Study II is available
The UK charity Healthtalkonline has interviews with people about their experiences of diabetes
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes and about physical exercise and fitness (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001587
PMCID: PMC3891575  PMID: 24453948
7.  Rural Environments and Community Health (REACH): a randomised controlled trial protocol for an online walking intervention in rural adults 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):969.
Background
Rural Australian adults are continually shown to be insufficiently active with higher prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases associated with physical inactivity compared to urban adults. This may, partly, be attributable to the challenges associated with implementing community-based physical activity programs in rural communities. There is a need for broadly accessible physical activity programs specifically tailored to the unique attributes of rural communities. The aim of the Rural Environments And Community Health (REACH) study is to evaluate the effectiveness of an online-delivered physical activity intervention for increasing regular walking among adults living in rural areas of South Australia.
Methods/Design
This is a randomised controlled trial. The intervention is 12-weeks with a 12-month follow-up. Participants will be insufficiently active, aged 18 to 70 years and randomly assigned to either Control or Intervention group. Participants receive a pedometer, but only the Intervention group will receive access to the purpose built REACH website where they will report steps taken, affect and ratings of perceived exertion during daily walking. These variables will be used to establish individualised step goals for increasing walking. Control participants will receive a paper diary to record their variables and generic incremental step goals.
The primary outcome measures are time spent in sedentary, light and moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity, measured by accelerometry. Secondary outcomes include 1) health measures (anthropometric and physiological), 2) psychological well-being, 3) diet quality, and 4) correlates of physical activity (exercise self-efficacy and physical activity environments). Measures will be collected at baseline, post-intervention, 6-month and 12-month follow-up.
Discussion
This protocol describes the implementation of a trial testing the effectiveness of an online resource designed to assist rural Australians to become more physically active. The outcomes of this study will guide the efforts of health promotion professionals by providing evidence for a relatively inexpensive, widely accessible and effective method for increasing physical activity that can be utilized by anyone with access to the internet. Findings may indicate future directions for the implementation of physical activity and other health related interventions in rural communities.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTR12614000927628 (registered 28 August 2014).
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-969
PMCID: PMC4177164  PMID: 25236776
Physical activity; Walking; Pedometer; Cardiovascular risk; Online intervention; Lifestyle intervention; Health behaviour
8.  Pilot Study of a Faith-Based Physical Activity Program Among Sedentary Blacks 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2008;5(2):A51.
Introduction
Physical activity participation is low among blacks, and strategies are needed to successfully create immediate and sustained behavior change related to physical activity. Churches can play an important role in health promotion efforts among blacks because of their central role in spiritual guidance, communication, social support, and networking. This pilot study evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of implementing a physical activity program for sedentary black adults in churches.
Methods
We used a preintervention/postintervention single-group design to evaluate the effect of a 3-month faith-based physical activity intervention on daily walking and moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity among sedentary blacks. Eighty-seven black adults participated in eight group sessions that included discussion of physical activity-related topics, an instructor-led physical activity session, and weekly incentives to promote physical activity. We used a questionnaire to assess moderate and vigorous physical activity in minutes per week at baseline and after 3 months. Walking was assessed weekly in steps per day by using a pedometer.
Results
Participants (mean age, 52 yrs; mean body mass index, 35 kg/m2) reported 27 ± 54 and 10 ± 25 minutes per week in moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity physical activity, respectively, and walked 4822 ± 2351 steps per day at baseline. After 12 weeks, moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity increased by 67 ± 78 and 44 ± 66 minutes per week, respectively (P ≤ .01), and daily walking increased by 1373 ± 728 steps per day (P < .001).
Conclusion
These data suggest that a faith-based physical activity intervention may be an appropriate strategy for increasing physical activity among sedentary black adults. Future research will determine the impact of this program in a randomized, controlled design.
PMCID: PMC2396995  PMID: 18341786
9.  Associations between neighbourhood environmental characteristics and obesity and related behaviours among adult New Zealanders 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:553.
Background
The prevalence of adult obesity is escalating in most wealthy and middle income countries. Due to the magnitude of this issue, research and interventions at the individual-level abound. However, the limited success and high costs of such interventions has led to a growing recognition of the potential role of environmental factors in reducing obesity and promoting physical activity and healthy diets.
Methods
This study utilised individual-level data from the 2006/7 New Zealand Health Survey on obesity, physical activity, diet and socio-economic variables linked to geographic information from other sources on potentially aetiologically-relevant environmental factors, based on the respondent’s residential address. We fitted logistic regression models for eight binary measures of weight or weight-related behaviours: 1) overweight; 2) obesity; 3) overweight + obesity; 4) active at least 30 minutes a day for 5+ days per week; 5) active <30 minutes per week; 6) walk 150 minutes + per week; 7) walk <30 minutes per week; and 8) consumption of 5+ fruits and vegetables per day. We included a range of independent environmental characteristics of interest in separate models.
Results
We found that increased neighbourhood deprivation and decreased access to neighbourhood greenspace were both significantly associated with increased odds of overweight and/or obesity. The results for weight-related behaviours indicate that meeting the recommended level of physical activity per week was associated with urban/rural status, with higher activity in the more rural areas and a surprising tendency for less activity among those living in areas with higher levels of active travel to work. Increased access to greenspace was associated with high levels of walking, while decreased access to greenspace was associated with low levels of walking. There was also a significant trend for low levels of walking to be positively associated with neighbourhood deprivation. Results for adequate fruit and vegetable consumption show a significant urban/rural gradient, with more people meeting recommended levels in the more rural compared to more urban areas.
Conclusion
Similar to findings from other international studies, these results highlight greenspace as an amenable environmental factor associated with obesity/overweight and also indicate the potential benefit of targeted health promotion in both urban and deprived areas in New Zealand.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-553
PMCID: PMC4059100  PMID: 24894572
Obesity; Built environment; Neighbourhood; New Zealand
10.  The effect of a pedometer-based community walking intervention "Walking for Wellbeing in the West" on physical activity levels and health outcomes: a 12-week randomized controlled trial 
Background
Recent systematic reviews have suggested that pedometers may be effective motivational tools to promote walking. However, studies tend to be of a relatively short duration, with small clinical based samples. Further research is required to demonstrate their effectiveness in adequately powered, community based studies.
Objective
Using a randomized controlled trial design, this study assessed the impact of a 12-week graduated pedometer-based walking intervention on daily step-counts, self-reported physical activity and health outcomes in a Scottish community sample not meeting current physical activity recommendations.
Method
Sixty-three women and 16 men (49.2 years ± 8.8) were randomly assigned to either an intervention (physical activity consultation and 12-week pedometer-based walking program) or control (no action) group. Measures for step-counts, 7-day physical activity recall, affect, quality of life (n = 79), body mass, BMI, % body fat, waist and hip circumference (n = 76), systolic/diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol (n = 66) were taken at baseline and week 12. Analyses were performed on an intention to treat basis using 2-way mixed factorial analyses of variance for parametric data and Mann Whitney and Wilcoxon tests for non-parametric data.
Results
Significant increases were found in the intervention group for step-counts (p < .001), time spent in leisure walking (p = .02) and positive affect (p = .027). Significant decreases were found in this group for time spent in weekday (p = .003), weekend (p = .001) and total sitting (p = .001) with no corresponding changes in the control group. No significant changes in any other health outcomes were found in either group. In comparison with the control group at week 12, the intervention group reported a significantly greater number of minutes spent in leisure time (p = .008), occupational (p = .045) and total walking (p = .03), and significantly fewer minutes in time spent in weekend (p = .003) and total sitting (p = .022).
Conclusion
A pedometer-based walking program, incorporating a physical activity consultation, is effective in promoting walking and improving positive affect over 12 weeks in community based individuals. The discussion examines possible explanations for the lack of significant changes in health outcomes. Continued follow-up of this study will examine adherence to the intervention and possible resulting effects on health outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-5-44
PMCID: PMC2546435  PMID: 18775062
11.  A Community-wide Media Campaign to Promote Walking in a Missouri Town 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2005;2(4):A04.
Introduction
Engaging in moderate physical activity for 30 minutes five or more times per week substantially reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, and walking is an easy and accessible way to achieve this goal. A theory-based mass media campaign promoted walking and local community-sponsored wellness initiatives through four types of media (billboard, newspaper, radio, and poster advertisements) in St Joseph, Mo, over 5 months during the summer of 2003.
Methods
The Walk Missouri campaign was conducted in four phases: 1) formative research, 2) program design and pretesting, 3) implementation, and 4) impact assessment. Using a postcampaign-only, cross-sectional design, a telephone survey (N = 297) was conducted in St Joseph to assess campaign impact. Study outcomes were pro-walking beliefs and behaviors.
Results
One in three survey respondents reported seeing or hearing campaign messages on one or more types of media. Reported exposure to the campaign was significantly associated with two of four pro-walking belief scales (social and pleasure benefits) and with one of three community-sponsored activities (participation in a community-sponsored walk) controlling for demographic, health status, and environmental factors. Exposure was also significantly associated with one of three general walking behaviors (number of days per week walking) when controlling for age and health status but not when beliefs were introduced into the model, consistent with an a priori theoretical mechanism: the mediating effect of pro-walking beliefs on the exposure–walking association.
Conclusion
These results suggest that a media campaign can enhance the success of community-based efforts to promote pro-walking beliefs and behaviors.
PMCID: PMC1432093  PMID: 16164808
12.  Safe To Walk? Neighborhood Safety and Physical Activity Among Public Housing Residents 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(10):e306.
Background
Despite its health benefits, physical inactivity is pervasive, particularly among those living in lower-income urban communities. In such settings, neighborhood safety may impact willingness to be regularly physically active. We examined the association of perceived neighborhood safety with pedometer-determined physical activity and physical activity self-efficacy.
Methods and Findings
Participants were 1,180 predominantly racial/ethnic minority adults recruited from 12 urban low-income housing complexes in metropolitan Boston. Participants completed a 5-d pedometer data-collection protocol and self-reported their perceptions of neighborhood safety and self-efficacy (i.e., confidence in the ability to be physically active). Gender-stratified bivariate and multivariable random effects models were estimated to account for within-site clustering. Most participants reported feeling safe during the day, while just over one-third (36%) felt safe at night. We found no association between daytime safety reports and physical activity among both men and women. There was also no association between night-time safety reports and physical activity among men (p = 0.23) but women who reported feeling unsafe (versus safe) at night showed significantly fewer steps per day (4,302 versus 5,178, p = 0.01). Perceiving one's neighborhood as unsafe during the day was associated with significantly lower odds of having high physical activity self-efficacy among both men (OR 0.40, p = 0.01) and women (OR 0.68, p = 0.02).
Conclusions
Residing in a neighborhood that is perceived to be unsafe at night is a barrier to regular physical activity among individuals, especially women, living in urban low-income housing. Feeling unsafe may also diminish confidence in the ability to be more physically active. Both of these factors may limit the effectiveness of physical activity promotion strategies delivered in similar settings.
Garry Bennett and colleagues measured exercise levels and obtained opinions on neighborhood safety. They concluded that residing in a neighborhood perceived to be unsafe at night is a barrier to regular physical activity.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Nowadays we are all encouraged to do more physical activity, as it has been shown that inactivity increases the risk of many medical conditions, including obesity, heart attacks, and strokes. Inactive people die younger. Previous research has shown that people on a low income and those from ethnic or racial minorities have the lowest activity levels. There are, however, many barriers to being active. It has been claimed that people who live in neighborhoods that are unsafe face particular difficulties. They might want to walk, cycle, or take other forms of outdoor exercise near their home, but they fear they would be injured as a result of a violent attack. It is usually the poorest members of society who live in unsafe areas. It is also known that those poor people who belong to minority racial or ethnic groups are particularly likely to feel unsafe.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers who did this study wanted to find out whether people in a low-income urban area in the US considered themselves to be unsafe in their neighborhood, and how much physical activity they took part in. Their aim was to establish whether there was an association between the perceived safety level and the amount of activity taken, or if the two were unrelated. Other researchers have tried to look for such an association before, but they have usually relied on how much activity people say they remember taking, not on the actual measured amount. The results from such research have been very varied and inconclusive.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Working in one low-income district of one US city (Boston), they found over 1,000 people to participate in their study, most of whom were from ethnic minorities. They asked them the question: “How safe do you feel walking alone in your neighborhood?” Response options included “safe,” “a little unsafe,” and “unsafe.” The same question was asked about walking alone in the daylight and walking alone after dark. The people in the study also agreed to wear a pedometer for five days. This instrument measures the number of steps that the wearer takes. It is thus a much more accurate way of finding out about activity levels than asking people how much activity they think they have engaged in.
Four out of five people said they did feel safe during the day, but there was no association between daytime safety and physical activity. This was the case for both men and women. Two-thirds of the people in the study felt unsafe in the night-time. There was no association between perceived night-time safety and physical activity among men, but women who reported feeling unsafe at night took around 1,000 fewer steps per day than other women. That amounts to around 20% less physical activity.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Even the women who felt safe at night were only taking around 5,000 steps per day, around half of what the US Surgeon General recommends for good health. So all the women in the study would benefit from more physical activity. However, the much lower amount of activity of the women who felt unsafe does suggest that a perceived lack of safety is an important factor, which could increase the risks to their health. It is interesting that the association between perceived safety and activity was not found in men and only applied to night-time safety. However, the authors argue that their findings provide preliminary evidence that perceived low neighborhood safety may serve as a barrier to physical activity in low-income areas. They discuss in the article the need for further research.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040306.
• The UK National Health Service publishes the online NHS Direct Health Encyclopedia, which describes the benefits of exercise and gives recommendations
• Information on exercise may also be found on MedlinePlus, a service of the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040306
PMCID: PMC2039759  PMID: 17958465
13.  Dietary Intakes and Physical Activity among Preschool Aged Children living in Rural American Indian Communities Prior to a Family-based Healthy Lifestyle Intervention 
Objective
To report dietary intake and physical activity among preschool-aged children living in rural American Indian (AI) communities prior to a family-based healthy lifestyle intervention and to compare data to current age-specific recommendations.
Subjects/Design
One hundred thirty-five preschool-aged children, living in rural AI communities, provided diet and physical activity data, prior to a two-year randomized healthy lifestyle intervention. Three 24-hour dietary recalls assessed nutrient and food and added sugar intake, which were compared to the National Academy of Science's Daily Reference Intakes, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) MyPyramid, and the American Heart Association recommendations. Time watching television and moderate plus vigorous activity (MVA) was compared to the MyPyramid and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations.
Statistical analysis
Nutrient, food group, added sugar intake and time watching television and in MVA were compared to recommendations by computing the percent of recommendations met. Nonparametric tests identified differences in diet and physical activity among age groups and normal and overweight children (body mass index < 85th and ≥ 85th percentile).
Results
Average nutrient intakes met recommendations whereas food group intakes did not. Mean fruit and vegetable intakes for two to three year-olds were 0.36 cups/day fruit and 0.45 cups/day vegetables and, for four to five year-olds, 0.33 cups/day fruit and 0.48 cups/day vegetables. Both age groups reported consuming more than 50 grams of added sugar, exceeding the recommendation of 16 grams. Overweight versus normal weight children reported significantly more sweetened beverage intake (8.0 ± 0.10 vs. 5.28 ± 0.08 ounces/day, p < 0.01) On average, all children reported watching television 2.0 hours/day and significant differences were observed for total television viewing and non-viewing time between overweight and normal weight children (8.52 ± 0.6 vs. 6.54 ± 0.6 hours/day, p < 0.01). All children engaged in less than 20 minutes/day of MVA.
Conclusions
Overall, children in this sample did not meet MyPyramid recommendations for fruits or vegetables and exceed added sugar intake recommendations. Viewing and non-viewing television time was highly prevalent along with low levels of MVA. The HCSF intervention has the potential for improving nutrition and physical activity among preschool children living in rural AI communities.
doi:10.1016/j.jada.2010.04.009
PMCID: PMC2946329  PMID: 20630162
dietary intake; physical activity; preschool-aged American Indian children; USDA's MyPyramid
14.  Combined Impact of Health Behaviours and Mortality in Men and Women: The EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Population Study 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(1):e12.
Background
There is overwhelming evidence that behavioural factors influence health, but their combined impact on the general population is less well documented. We aimed to quantify the potential combined impact of four health behaviours on mortality in men and women living in the general community.
Methods and Findings
We examined the prospective relationship between lifestyle and mortality in a prospective population study of 20,244 men and women aged 45–79 y with no known cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline survey in 1993–1997, living in the general community in the United Kingdom, and followed up to 2006. Participants scored one point for each health behaviour: current non-smoking, not physically inactive, moderate alcohol intake (1–14 units a week) and plasma vitamin C >50 mmol/l indicating fruit and vegetable intake of at least five servings a day, for a total score ranging from zero to four. After an average 11 y follow-up, the age-, sex-, body mass–, and social class–adjusted relative risks (95% confidence intervals) for all-cause mortality(1,987 deaths) for men and women who had three, two, one, and zero compared to four health behaviours were respectively, 1.39 (1.21–1.60), 1.95 (1.70–-2.25), 2.52 (2.13–3.00), and 4.04 (2.95–5.54) p < 0.001 trend. The relationships were consistent in subgroups stratified by sex, age, body mass index, and social class, and after excluding deaths within 2 y. The trends were strongest for cardiovascular causes. The mortality risk for those with four compared to zero health behaviours was equivalent to being 14 y younger in chronological age.
Conclusions
Four health behaviours combined predict a 4-fold difference in total mortality in men and women, with an estimated impact equivalent to 14 y in chronological age.
From a large prospective population study, Kay-Tee Khaw and colleagues estimate the combined impact of four behaviors--not smoking, not being physically inactive, moderate alcohol intake, and at least five vegetable servings a day--amounts to 14 additional years of life.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every day, or so it seems, new research shows that some aspect of lifestyle—physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption, and so on—affects health and longevity. For the person in the street, all this information is confusing. What is a healthy diet, for example? Although there are some common themes such as the benefit of eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, the details often differ between studies. And exactly how much physical activity is needed to improve health? Is a gentle daily walk sufficient or simply a stepping stone to doing enough exercise to make a real difference? The situation with alcohol consumption is equally confusing. Small amounts of alcohol apparently improve health but large amounts are harmful. As a result, it can be hard for public-health officials to find effective ways to encourage the behavioral changes that the scientific evidence suggests might influence the health of populations.
Why Was This Study Done?
There is another factor that is hindering official attempts to provide healthy lifestyle advice to the public. Although there is overwhelming evidence that individual behavioral factors influence health, there is very little information about their combined impact. If the combination of several small differences in lifestyle could be shown to have a marked effect on the health of populations, it might be easier to persuade people to make behavioral changes to improve their health, particularly if those changes were simple and relatively easy to achieve. In this study, which forms part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), the researchers have examined the relationship between lifestyle and the risk of dying using a health behavior score based on four simply defined behaviors—smoking, physical activity, alcohol drinking, and fruit and vegetable intake.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 1993 and 1997, about 20,000 men and women aged 45–79 living in Norfolk UK, none of whom had cancer or cardiovascular disease (heart or circulation problems), completed a health and lifestyle questionnaire, had a health examination, and had their blood vitamin C level measured as part of the EPIC-Norfolk study. A health behavior score of between 0 and 4 was calculated for each participant by giving one point for each of the following healthy behaviors: current non-smoking, not physically inactive (physical inactivity was defined as having a sedentary job and doing no recreational exercise), moderate alcohol intake (1–14 units a week; a unit of alcohol is half a pint of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of spirit), and a blood vitamin C level consistent with a fruit and vegetable intake of at least five servings a day. Deaths among the participants were then recorded until 2006. After allowing for other factors that might have affected their likelihood of dying (for example, age), people with a health behavior score of 0 were four times as likely to have died (in particular, from cardiovascular disease) than those with a score of 4. People with a score of 2 were twice as likely to have died.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the combination of four simply defined health behaviors predicts a 4-fold difference in the risk of dying over an average period of 11 years for middle-aged and older people. They also show that the risk of death (particularly from cardiovascular disease) decreases as the number of positive health behaviors increase. Finally, they can be used to calculate that a person with a health score of 0 has the same risk of dying as a person with a health score of 4 who is 14 years older. These findings need to be confirmed in other populations and extended to an analysis of how these combined health behaviors affect the quality of life as well as the risk of death. Nevertheless, they strongly suggest that modest and achievable lifestyle changes could have a marked effect on the health of populations. Armed with this information, public-health officials should now be in a better position to encourage behavior changes likely to improve the health of middle-aged and older people.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050012.
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains a page on healthy living (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus page on seniors' health contains links to many sites dealing with healthy lifestyles and longevity (in English and Spanish)
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study is investigating the relationship between nutrition and lifestyle and the development of cancer and other chronic diseases; information about the EPIC-Norfolk study is also available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on healthy aging for older adults, including information on health-related behaviors (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity Age Concerns provides a fact sheet about staying healthy in later life
The London Health Observatory, which provides information for policy makers and practitioners about improving health and health care, has a section on how lifestyle and behavior affect health
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050012
PMCID: PMC2174962  PMID: 18184033
15.  Diet and Physical Activity for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Policy Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001465.
Carl Lachat and colleagues evaluate policies in low- and middle-income countries addressing salt and fat consumption, fruit and vegetable intake, and physical activity, key risk factors for non-communicable diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are increasing rapidly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and constitute a leading cause of mortality. Although a call for global action has been resonating for years, the progress in national policy development in LMICs has not been assessed. This review of strategies to prevent NCDs in LMICs provides a benchmark against which policy response can be tracked over time.
Methods and Findings
We reviewed how government policies in LMICs outline actions that address salt consumption, fat consumption, fruit and vegetable intake, or physical activity. A structured content analysis of national nutrition, NCDs, and health policies published between 1 January 2004 and 1 January 2013 by 140 LMIC members of the World Health Organization (WHO) was carried out. We assessed availability of policies in 83% (116/140) of the countries. NCD strategies were found in 47% (54/116) of LMICs reviewed, but only a minority proposed actions to promote healthier diets and physical activity. The coverage of policies that specifically targeted at least one of the risk factors reviewed was lower in Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Eastern Mediterranean compared to the other two World Health Organization regions, South-East Asia and Western Pacific. Of the countries reviewed, only 12% (14/116) proposed a policy that addressed all four risk factors, and 25% (29/116) addressed only one of the risk factors reviewed. Strategies targeting the private sector were less frequently encountered than strategies targeting the general public or policy makers.
Conclusions
This review indicates the disconnection between the burden of NCDs and national policy responses in LMICs. Policy makers urgently need to develop comprehensive and multi-stakeholder policies to improve dietary quality and physical activity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)—chronic medical conditions including cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke), diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma)—are responsible for two-thirds of the world's deaths. Nearly 80% of NCD deaths, close to 30 million per year, occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where they are also rising most rapidly. Diet and lifestyle (including smoking, lack of exercise, and harmful alcohol consumption) influence a person's risk of developing an NCD and of dying from it. Because they can be modified, these risk factors have been at the center of strategies to combat NCDs. In 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. For diet, it recommended that individuals achieve energy balance and a healthy weight; limit energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids; increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts; limit the intake of free sugars; and limit salt consumption from all sources and ensure that salt is iodized. For physical activity, it recommended at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days throughout a person's life.
Why Was This Study Done?
By signing onto the Global Strategy in 2004, WHO member countries agreed to implement it with high priority. A first step of implementation is usually the development of local policies. Consequently, one of the four objectives of the WHO Global Strategy is “to encourage the development, strengthening and implementation of global, regional, national and community policies and action plans to improve diets and increase physical activity.” Along the same lines, in 2011 the United Nations held a high-level meeting in which the need to accelerate the policy response to the NCD epidemic was emphasized. This study was done to assess the existing national policies on NCD prevention in LMICs. Specifically, the researchers examined how well those policies matched the WHO recommendations for intake of salt, fat, and fruits and vegetables, as well as the recommendations for physical activity.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the Internet (including websites of relevant ministries and departments) for all publicly available national policies related to diet, nutrition, NCDs, and health from all 140 WHO member countries classified as LMICs by the World Bank in 2011. For countries for which the search did not turn up policies, the researchers sent e-mail requests to the relevant national authorities, to the regional WHO offices, and to personal contacts. All documents dated from 1 January 2004 to 1 January 2013 that included national objectives and guidelines for action regarding diet, physical exercise, NCD prevention, or a combination of the three, were analyzed in detail.
Most of the policies obtained were not easy to find and access. For 24 countries, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean, the researchers eventually gave up, unable to establish whether relevant national policies existed. Of the remaining 116 countries, 29 countries had no relevant policies, and another 30 had policies that failed to mention specifically any of the diet-related risk factors included in the analysis. Fifty-four of the 116 countries had NCD policies that addressed at least one of the risk factors. Thirty-six national policy documents contained strategies to increase fruit and vegetable intake, 20 addressed dietary fat consumption, 23 aimed to limit salt intake, and 35 had specific actions to promote physical activity. Only 14 countries, including Jamaica, the Philippines, Iran, and Mongolia, had policies that addressed all four risk factors. The policies of 27 countries mentioned only one of the four risk factors.
Policies primarily targeted consumers and government agencies and failed to address the roles of the business community or civil society. Consistent with this, most were missing plans, mechanisms, and incentives to drive collaborations between the different stakeholders.
What Do These Findings Mean?
More than eight years after the WHO Global Strategy was agreed upon, only a minority of the LMICs included in this analysis have comprehensive policies in place. Developing policies and making them widely accessible is a likely early step toward specific implementation and actions to prevent NCDs. These results therefore suggest that not enough emphasis is placed on NCD prevention in these countries through actions that have been proven to reduce known risk factors. That said, the more important question is what countries are actually doing to combat NCDs, something not directly addressed by this analysis.
In richer countries, NCDs have for decades been the leading cause of sickness and death, and the fact that public health strategies need to emphasize NCD prevention is now widely recognized. LMICs not only have more limited resources, they also continue to carry a large burden from infectious diseases. It is therefore not surprising that shifting resources towards NCD prevention is a difficult process, even if the human cost of these diseases is massive and increasing. That only about 3% of global health aid is aimed at NCD prevention does not help the situation.
The authors argue that one step toward improving the situation is better sharing of best practices and what works and what doesn't in policy development. They suggest that an open-access repository like one that exists for Europe could improve the situation. They offer to organize, host, and curate such a resource under the auspices of WHO, starting with the policies retrieved for this study, and they invite submission of additional policies and updates.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001465.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Stuckler and Basu
The WHO website on diet and physical activity contains links to various documents, including a diet and physical activity implementation toolbox that contains links to the 2004 Global Strategy document and a Framework to Monitor and Evaluate Implementation
There is a 2011 WHO primer on NCDs entitled Prioritizing a Preventable Epidemic
A recent PLOS Medicine editorial and call for papers addressing the global disparities in the burden from NCDs
A PLOS Blogs post entitled Politics and Global HealthAre We Missing the Obvious? and associated comments discuss the state of the fight against NCDs in early 2013
The NCD Alliance was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control, the International Diabetes Federation, the World Heart Federation, and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease; its mission is to combat the NCD epidemic by putting health at the center of all policies
The WHO European Database on Nutrition, Obesity and Physical Activity (NOPA) contains national and subnational surveillance data, policy documents, actions to implement policy, and examples of good practice in programs and interventions for the WHO European member states
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001465
PMCID: PMC3679005  PMID: 23776415
16.  Primary Prevention of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus and Large-for-Gestational-Age Newborns by Lifestyle Counseling: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1001036.
In a cluster-randomized trial, Riitta Luoto and colleagues find that counseling on diet and activity can reduce the birthweight of babies born to women at risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), but fail to find an effect on GDM.
Background
Our objective was to examine whether gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) or newborns' high birthweight can be prevented by lifestyle counseling in pregnant women at high risk of GDM.
Method and Findings
We conducted a cluster-randomized trial, the NELLI study, in 14 municipalities in Finland, where 2,271 women were screened by oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) at 8–12 wk gestation. Euglycemic (n = 399) women with at least one GDM risk factor (body mass index [BMI] ≥25 kg/m2, glucose intolerance or newborn's macrosomia (≥4,500 g) in any earlier pregnancy, family history of diabetes, age ≥40 y) were included. The intervention included individual intensified counseling on physical activity and diet and weight gain at five antenatal visits. Primary outcomes were incidence of GDM as assessed by OGTT (maternal outcome) and newborns' birthweight adjusted for gestational age (neonatal outcome). Secondary outcomes were maternal weight gain and the need for insulin treatment during pregnancy. Adherence to the intervention was evaluated on the basis of changes in physical activity (weekly metabolic equivalent task (MET) minutes) and diet (intake of total fat, saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, saccharose, and fiber). Multilevel analyses took into account cluster, maternity clinic, and nurse level influences in addition to age, education, parity, and prepregnancy BMI. 15.8% (34/216) of women in the intervention group and 12.4% (22/179) in the usual care group developed GDM (absolute effect size 1.36, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.71–2.62, p = 0.36). Neonatal birthweight was lower in the intervention than in the usual care group (absolute effect size −133 g, 95% CI −231 to −35, p = 0.008) as was proportion of large-for-gestational-age (LGA) newborns (26/216, 12.1% versus 34/179, 19.7%, p = 0.042). Women in the intervention group increased their intake of dietary fiber (adjusted coefficient 1.83, 95% CI 0.30–3.25, p = 0.023) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (adjusted coefficient 0.37, 95% CI 0.16–0.57, p<0.001), decreased their intake of saturated fatty acids (adjusted coefficient −0.63, 95% CI −1.12 to −0.15, p = 0.01) and intake of saccharose (adjusted coefficient −0.83, 95% CI −1.55 to −0.11, p  =  0.023), and had a tendency to a smaller decrease in MET minutes/week for at least moderate intensity activity (adjusted coefficient 91, 95% CI −37 to 219, p = 0.17) than women in the usual care group. In subgroup analysis, adherent women in the intervention group (n = 55/229) had decreased risk of GDM (27.3% versus 33.0%, p = 0.43) and LGA newborns (7.3% versus 19.5%, p = 0.03) compared to women in the usual care group.
Conclusions
The intervention was effective in controlling birthweight of the newborns, but failed to have an effect on maternal GDM.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN33885819
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is diabetes that is first diagnosed during pregnancy. Like other types of diabetes, it is characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Blood-sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone that the pancreas releases when blood-sugar levels rise after meals. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and the baby's growth demands increase a pregnant woman's insulin needs and, if her pancreas cannot make enough insulin, GDM develops. Risk factors for GDM, which occurs in 2%–14% of pregnant women, include a high body-mass index (a measure of body fat), excessive weight gain or low physical activity during pregnancy, high dietary intake of polyunsaturated fats, glucose intolerance (an indicator of diabetes) or the birth of a large baby in a previous pregnancy, and a family history of diabetes. GDM is associated with an increased rate of cesarean sections, induced deliveries, birth complications, and large-for-gestational-age (LGA) babies (gestation is the time during which the baby develops within the mother). GDM, which can often be controlled by diet and exercise, usually disappears after pregnancy but increases a woman's subsequent risk of developing diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although lifestyle changes can be used to control GDM, it is not known whether similar changes can prevent GDM developing (“primary prevention”). In this cluster-randomized controlled trial, the researchers investigate whether individual intensified counseling on physical activity, diet, and weight gain integrated into routine maternity care visits can prevent the development of GDM and the occurrence of LGA babies among newborns. In a cluster-randomized controlled trial, groups of patients rather than individual patients are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions, and the outcomes in different “clusters” are compared. In this trial, each cluster is a municipality in the Pirkanmaa region of Finland.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 399 women, each of whom had a normal blood glucose level at 8–12 weeks gestation but at least one risk factor for GDM. Women in the intervention municipalities received intensified counseling on physical activity at 8–12 weeks' gestation, dietary counseling at 16–18 weeks' gestation, and further physical activity and dietary counseling at each subsequent antenatal visits. Women in the control municipalities received some dietary but little physical activity counseling as part of their usual care. 23.3% and 20.2% of women in the intervention and usual care groups, respectively, developed GDM, a nonstatistically significant difference (that is, a difference that could have occurred by chance). However, the average birthweight and the proportion of LGA babies were both significantly lower in the intervention group than in the usual care group. Food frequency questionnaires completed by the women indicated that, on average, those in the intervention group increased their intake of dietary fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids and decreased their intake of saturated fatty acids and sucrose as instructed during counseling, The amount of moderate physical activity also tended to decrease less as pregnancy proceeded in the intervention group than in usual care group. Finally, compared to the usual care group, significantly fewer of the 24% of women in the intervention group who actually met dietary and physical activity targets (“adherent” women) developed GDM.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that intensified counseling on diet and physical activity is effective in controlling the birthweight of babies born to women at risk of developing GDM and encourages at least some of them to alter their lifestyle. However, the findings fail to show that the intervention reduces the risk of GDM because of the limited power of the study. The power of a study—the probability that it will achieve a statistically significant result—depends on the study's size and on the likely effect size of the intervention. Before starting this study, the researchers calculated that they would need 420 participants to see a statistically significant difference between the groups if their intervention reduced GDM incidence by 40%. This estimated effect size was probably optimistic and therefore the study lacked power. Nevertheless, the analyses performed among adherent women suggest that lifestyle changes might be a way to prevent GDM and so larger studies should now be undertaken to test this potential primary prevention intervention.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001036.
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information for patients on diabetes and on gestational diabetes (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information for patients on diabetes and on gestational diabetes, including links to other useful resources
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has pages on diabetes and on gestational diabetes; MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources on diabetes and on gestational diabetes (in English and Spanish)
More information on this trial of primary prevention of GDM is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001036
PMCID: PMC3096610  PMID: 21610860
17.  Physical activity and inactivity patterns in India – results from the ICMR-INDIAB study (Phase-1) [ICMR-INDIAB-5] 
Background
The rising prevalence of diabetes and obesity in India can be attributed, at least in part, to increasing levels of physical inactivity. However, there has been no nationwide survey in India on physical activity levels involving both the urban and rural areas in whole states of India. The aim of the present study was to assess physical activity patterns across India - as part of the Indian Council of Medical Research-India Diabetes (ICMR-INDIAB) study.
Methods
Phase 1 of the ICMR-INDIAB study was conducted in four regions of India (Tamilnadu, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Chandigarh representing the south, west, east and north of India respectively) with a combined population of 213 million people. Physical activity was assessed using the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) in 14227 individuals aged ≥ 20 years [urban- 4,173; rural- 10,054], selected from the above regions using a stratified multistage design.
Results
Of the 14227 individuals studied, 54.4% (n = 7737) were inactive (males: 41.7%), while 31.9% (n = 4537) (males: 58.3%) were active and 13.7% (n = 1953) (males: 61.3%) were highly active. Subjects were more inactive in urban, compared to rural, areas (65.0% vs. 50.0%; p < 0.001). Males were significantly more active than females (p < 0.001). Subjects in all four regions spent more active minutes at work than in the commuting and recreation domains. Absence of recreational activity was reported by 88.4%, 94.8%, 91.3% and 93.1% of the subjects in Chandigarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamilnadu respectively. The percentage of individuals with no recreational activity increased with age (Trend χ2: 199.1, p < 0.001).
Conclusions
The study shows that a large percentage of people in India are inactive with fewer than 10% engaging in recreational physical activity. Therefore, urgent steps need to be initiated to promote physical activity to stem the twin epidemics of diabetes and obesity in India.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-26
PMCID: PMC3974063  PMID: 24571915
Prevalence; Physical activity; INDIAB; India; South Asians; Asian Indians; Exercise; Sedentary; Diabetes
18.  Associations among Environmental Supports, Physical Activity, and Blood Pressure in African American Adults in the PATH Trial 
Social science & medicine (1982)  2013;87:10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.03.018.
High blood pressure disproportionately affects African American adults and is a leading cause of stroke and heart attack. Engaging in recommended levels of physical activity reduces blood pressure, and social and physical environmental supports for physical activity may increase engagement in physical activity. Based on social cognitive theory within a bioecological framework, the present study tested hypotheses that perceived peer social support for physical activity and neighborhood walkability would be positively associated with physical activity, and that physical activity would mediate their relation with blood pressure. Baseline data were collected with 434 African American adults in underserved communities (low income, high crime) participating in the Positive Action for Today's Health (PATH) trial. Perceived peer social support for physical activity and neighborhood walkability were measured with validated surveys. Physical activity was assessed with 7-day accelerometry (moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, min/day) and with a 4-week recall of walking. Three blood pressure assessments were taken by trained staff using standard protocols, with values from the second and third assessments averaged. The sample was predominantly female (63%), overweight (mean body mass index=30.9, SD=8.4), and had slightly elevated blood pressure with a mean systolic blood pressure of 132.4 (SD=17.9) and a mean diastolic blood pressure of 81.4 (SD=11.0). Results demonstrated that peer social support for physical activity (B=2.43, p=.02) and neighborhood walkability (B=2.40, p=.046) were significantly related to average daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Neighborhood walkability was also significantly associated with self-reported average daily walking (B=8.86, p=.02). Physical activity did not mediate their relation with blood pressure and no significant direct effects of these variables on blood pressure were found. The positive influence of social and physical environmental supports on physical activity in underserved African American communities may guide intervention efforts and contribute to our understanding of physical activity and related health outcomes.
doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.03.018
PMCID: PMC3653180  PMID: 23631785
physical activity; social support; neighborhood walkability; blood pressure; African American
19.  Environmental perceptions and objective walking trail audits inform a community-based participatory research walking intervention 
Background
Given the documented physical activity disparities that exist among low-income minority communities and the increased focused on socio-ecological approaches to address physical inactivity, efforts aimed at understanding the built environment to support physical activity are needed. This community-based participatory research (CBPR) project investigates walking trails perceptions in a high minority southern community and objectively examines walking trails. The primary aim is to explore if perceived and objective audit variables predict meeting recommendations for walking and physical activity, MET/minutes/week of physical activity, and frequency of trail use.
Methods
A proportional sampling plan was used to survey community residents in this cross-sectional study. Previously validated instruments were pilot tested and appropriately adapted and included the short version of the validated International Physical Activity Questionnaire, trail use, and perceptions of walking trails. Walking trails were assessed using the valid and reliable Path Environmental Audit Tool which assesses four content areas including: design features, amenities, maintenance, and pedestrian safety from traffic. Analyses included Chi-square, one-way ANOVA's, multiple linear regression, and multiple logistic models.
Results
Numerous (n = 21) high quality walking trails were available. Across trails, there were very few indicators of incivilities and safety features rated relatively high. Among the 372 respondents, trail use significantly predicted meeting recommendations for walking and physical activity, and MET/minutes/week. While controlling for other variables, significant predictors of trail use included proximity to trails, as well as perceptions of walking trail safety, trail amenities, and neighborhood pedestrian safety. Furthermore, while controlling for education, gender, and income; for every one time per week increase in using walking trails, the odds for meeting walking recommendations increased 1.27 times, and the odds for meeting PA recommendation increased 3.54 times. Perceived and objective audit variables did not predict meeting physical activity recommendations.
Conclusions
To improve physical activity levels, intervention efforts are needed to maximize the use of existing trails, as well as improve residents' perceptions related to incivilities, safety, conditions of trail, and amenities of the walking trails. This study provides important insights for informing development of the CBPR walking intervention and informing local recreational and environmental policies in this southern community.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-9-6
PMCID: PMC3283478  PMID: 22289653
20.  The effect of walking on falls in older people: the 'Easy Steps to Health' randomized controlled trial study protocol 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:888.
Background
Falls in older people continue to be a major public health issue in industrialized countries. Extensive research into falls prevention has identified exercise as a proven fall prevention strategy. However, despite over a decade of promoting physical activity, hospitalisation rates due to falls injuries in older people are still increasing. This could be because efforts to increase physical activity amongst older people have been unsuccessful, or the physical activity that older people engage in is insufficient and/or inappropriate. The majority of older people choose walking as their predominant form of exercise. While walking has been shown to lower the risk of many chronic diseases its role in falls prevention remains unclear. This paper outlines the methodology of a study whose aims are to determine: if a home-based walking intervention will reduce the falls rate among healthy but inactive community-dwelling older adults (65 + years) compared to no intervention (usual activity) and; whether such an intervention can improve risk factors for falls, such as balance, strength and reaction time.
Methods/Design
This study uses a randomised controlled trial design.
A total of 484 older people exercising less than 120 minutes per week will be recruited through the community and health care referrals throughout Sydney and neighboring regions. All participants are randomised into either the self-managed walking program group or the health-education waiting list group using a block randomization scheme.
Outcome measures include prospective falls and falls injuries, quality of life, and physical activity levels. A subset of participants (n = 194) will also receive physical performance assessments comprising of tests of dynamic balance, strength, reaction time and lower limb functional status.
Discussion
Certain types of physical activity can reduce the risk of falls. As walking is already the most popular physical activity amongst older people, if walking is shown to reduce falls the public health implications could be enormous. Conversely, if walking does not reduce falls in older people, or even puts older people at greater risk, then health resources targeting falls prevention need to be invested elsewhere.
Trial Registration
Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ACTRN12610000380099
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-888
PMCID: PMC3251253  PMID: 22115340
21.  Averting Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in India through Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxation: An Economic-Epidemiologic Modeling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001582.
In this modeling study, Sanjay Basu and colleagues estimate the potential health effects of a sugar-sweetened beverage taxation among various sub-populations in India over the period 2014 to 2023.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has been proposed in high-income countries to reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes. We sought to estimate the potential health effects of such a fiscal strategy in the middle-income country of India, where there is heterogeneity in SSB consumption, patterns of substitution between SSBs and other beverages after tax increases, and vast differences in chronic disease risk within the population.
Methods and Findings
Using consumption and price variations data from a nationally representative survey of 100,855 Indian households, we first calculated how changes in SSB price alter per capita consumption of SSBs and substitution with other beverages. We then incorporated SSB sales trends, body mass index (BMI), and diabetes incidence data stratified by age, sex, income, and urban/rural residence into a validated microsimulation of caloric consumption, glycemic load, overweight/obesity prevalence, and type 2 diabetes incidence among Indian subpopulations facing a 20% SSB excise tax. The 20% SSB tax was anticipated to reduce overweight and obesity prevalence by 3.0% (95% CI 1.6%–5.9%) and type 2 diabetes incidence by 1.6% (95% CI 1.2%–1.9%) among various Indian subpopulations over the period 2014–2023, if SSB consumption continued to increase linearly in accordance with secular trends. However, acceleration in SSB consumption trends consistent with industry marketing models would be expected to increase the impact efficacy of taxation, averting 4.2% of prevalent overweight/obesity (95% CI 2.5–10.0%) and 2.5% (95% CI 1.0–2.8%) of incident type 2 diabetes from 2014–2023. Given current consumption and BMI distributions, our results suggest the largest relative effect would be expected among young rural men, refuting our a priori hypothesis that urban populations would be isolated beneficiaries of SSB taxation. Key limitations of this estimation approach include the assumption that consumer expenditure behavior from prior years, captured in price elasticities, will reflect future behavior among consumers, and potential underreporting of consumption in dietary recall data used to inform our calculations.
Conclusion
Sustained SSB taxation at a high tax rate could mitigate rising obesity and type 2 diabetes in India among both urban and rural subpopulations.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and obesity (excessive body mass) are major threats to global health. Each year NCDs kill 36 million people (including 29 million people in low- and middle-income countries), thereby accounting for nearly two-thirds of the world's annual deaths. Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases, and diabetes (a condition characterized by raised blood sugar levels) are responsible for most NCD-related deaths. Worldwide, diabetes alone affects about 360 million people and causes nearly 5 million deaths annually. And the number of people affected by NCDs is likely to rise over the next few decades. It is estimated, for example, that 101.2 million people in India will have diabetes by 2030, nearly double the current number. In Asia and other low- and middle-income countries overweight as well as obesity represent a risk factor for NCDs and the global prevalence of obesity (the proportion of the world's population that is obese) has nearly doubled since 1980. Worldwide, around 0.5 billion people are now classified as obese and about 1.5 billion more overweight. That is, they have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or more (25–30 for overweight); BMI is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. In India individuals with a BMI of 25 or more (overweight/obese) are at very high risk of diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs, soft drinks sweetened with cane sugar or other caloric sweeteners) is a major risk factor for overweight/obesity and, independent of total energy consumption and BMI, for type 2 diabetes (the commonest form of diabetes). In high-income countries, SSB taxation has been proposed as a way to lower the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, however it is unknown if this approach will work in low- and middle-income countries. Here, in an economic-epidemiologic modeling study, researchers estimate the potential health effects of SSB taxation in India, a middle-income country in which total SSB consumption is rapidly increasing, but where SSB consumption and chronic disease risk vary greatly within the population and where people are likely to turn to other sugar-rich beverages (for example, fresh fruit juices) if SSBs are taxed.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used survey data relating SSB consumption to price variations to calculate how changes in the price of SSBs affect the demand for SSBs (own-price elasticity) and for other beverages (cross-price elasticity) in India. They combined these elasticities and data on SSB sales trends, BMIs, and diabetes incidence (the frequency of new diabetes cases) into a mathematical microsimulation model to estimate the effect of a 20% tax on SSBs on caloric (energy) consumption, glycemic load (an estimate of how much a food or drink raises blood sugar levels after consumption; low glycemic load diets lower diabetes risk), the prevalence of overweight/obesity, and the incidence of diabetes among Indian subpopulations. According to the model, if SSB sales continue to increase at the current rate, compared to no tax, a 20% SSB tax would reduce overweight/obesity across India by 3.0% and the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 1.6% over the period 2014–2023. In absolute figures, a 20% SSB tax would avert 11.2 million cases of overweight/obesity and 400,000 cases of type 2 diabetes between 2014 and 2023. Notably, if SSB sales increase more steeply as predicted by drinks industry marketing models, the tax would avert 15.8 million cases of overweight/obesity and 600,000 cases of diabetes. Finally, the model predicted that the largest relative effect of an SSB tax would be among young men in rural areas.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by the assumptions incorporated in the model and by the data fed into it. In particular, the accuracy of the estimates of the health effects of a 20% tax on SSBs is limited by the assumption that future consumer behavior will reflect historic behavior and by potential underreporting of SSB consumption in surveys. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that a sustained high rate of tax on SSBs could mitigate the rising prevalence of obesity and the rising incidence of diabetes in India in both urban and rural populations by affecting both caloric intake and glycemic load. Thus, SSB taxation might be a way to control obesity and diabetes in India and other low- and middle-income countries where, to date, large-scale interventions designed to address these threats to global health have had no sustained effects.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001582.
The World Health Organization provides information about non-communicable diseases, obesity, and diabetes around the world (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on non-communicable diseases around the world and on overweight and obesity and diabetes (including some information in Spanish)
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health-care professionals, and the general public, including detailed information on weight control (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes and about obesity; it includes personal stories about diabetes and about obesity
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes and diabetes prevention and about obesity (in English and Spanish)
A 2012 Policy brief from the Yale Rudd Center for food policy and obesity provides information about SSB taxes
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001582
PMCID: PMC3883641  PMID: 24409102
22.  WalkMore: a randomized controlled trial of pedometer-based interventions differing on intensity messages 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:168.
Background
Pedometer-based programs have elicited increased walking behaviors associated with improvements in blood pressure in sedentary/low active postmenopausal women, a population at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Such programs typically encourage increasing the volume of physical activity with little regard for its intensity. Recent advances in commercially available pedometer technology now permit tracking of both steps/day and time in moderate (or greater) intensity physical activity on a daily basis. It is not known whether the dual message to increase steps/day while also increasing time spent at higher intensity walking will elicit additional improvements in blood pressure relative to a message to only focus on increasing steps/day. The purpose of this paper is to present the rationale, study design, and protocols employed in WalkMore, a 3-arm 3-month blinded and randomized controlled trial (RCT) designed to compare the effects of two community pedometer-based walking interventions (reflecting these separate and combined messages) relative to a control group on blood pressure in sedentary/low active post-menopausal women, a population at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Methods/Design
120 sedentary/low active post-menopausal women (45-74 years of age) will be randomly assigned (computer-generated) to 1 of 3 groups: A) 10,000 steps/day (with no guidance on walking intensity/speed/cadence; BASIC intervention, n = 50); B) 10,000 steps/day and at least 30 minutes in moderate intensity (i.e., a cadence of at least 100 steps/min; ENHANCED intervention, n = 50); or a Control group (n = 20). An important strength of the study is the strict control and quantification of the pedometer-based physical activity interventions. The primary outcome is systolic blood pressure. Secondary outcomes include diastolic blood pressure, anthropometric measurements, fasting blood glucose and insulin, flow mediated dilation, gait speed, and accelerometer-determined physical activity and sedentary behavior.
Discussion
This study can make important contributions to our understanding of the relative benefits that walking volume and/or intensity may have on blood pressure in a population at risk of cardiovascular disease.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov Record NCT01519583, January 18, 2012
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-168
PMCID: PMC3931482  PMID: 24528783
Walking; Physical activity; Pedometer; Accelerometer; Exercise
23.  A population-based lifestyle intervention to promote healthy weight and physical activity in people with cardiac disease: The PANACHE (Physical Activity, Nutrition And Cardiac HEalth) study protocol 
Background
Maintaining a healthy weight and undertaking regular physical activity are important for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, many people with CVD are overweight and insufficiently active. In addition, in Australia only 20-30% of people requiring cardiac rehabilitation (CR) for CVD actually attend. To improve outcomes of and access to CR the efficacy, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of alternative approaches to CR need to be established.
This research will determine the efficacy of a telephone-delivered lifestyle intervention, promoting healthy weight and physical activity, in people with CVD in urban and rural settings. The control group will also act as a replication study of a previously proven physical activity intervention, to establish whether those findings can be repeated in different urban and rural locations. The cost-effectiveness and acceptability of the intervention to CR staff and participants will also be determined.
Methods/Design
This study is a randomised controlled trial. People referred for CR at two urban and two rural Australian hospitals will be invited to participate. The intervention (healthy weight) group will participate in four telephone delivered behavioural coaching and goal setting sessions over eight weeks. The coaching sessions will be on weight, nutrition and physical activity and will be supported by written materials, a pedometer and two follow-up booster telephone calls. The control (physical activity) group will participate in a six week intervention previously shown to increase physical activity, consisting of two telephone delivered behavioural coaching and goal setting sessions on physical activity, supported by written materials, a pedometer and two booster phone calls. Data will be collected at baseline, eight weeks and eight months for the intervention group (baseline, six weeks and six months for the control group). The primary outcome is weight change. Secondary outcomes include physical activity, sedentary time and nutrition habits. Costs will be compared with outcomes to determine the relative cost-effectiveness of the healthy weight and physical activity interventions.
Discussion
This study addresses a significant gap in public health practice by providing evidence for the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a low cost, low contact, high reach intervention promoting healthy weight and physical activity among people with CVD in rural and urban areas in Australia. The replication arm of the study, undertaken by the control group, will demonstrate whether the findings of the previously proven physical activity intervention can be generalised to new settings. This population-based approach could potentially improve access to and outcomes of secondary prevention programs, particularly for rural or disadvantaged communities.
Trial Registration
ACTRN12610000102077
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-10-17
PMCID: PMC2858099  PMID: 20374661
24.  Lifestyle modifications to prevent and control hypertension. 4. Recommendations on physical exercise training. Canadian Hypertension Society, Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 
OBJECTIVE: To provide updated, evidence-based recommendations for health care professionals concerning the effects of regular physical activity on the prevention and control of hypertension in otherwise healthy adults. OPTIONS: People may engage in no, sporadic or regular physical activity that may be of low, moderate or vigorous intensity. For sedentary people with hypertension, the options are to undertake or maintain regular physical activity and to avoid or moderate medication use; to use another lifestyle modification technique; to commence or continue antihypertensive medication; or to take no action and remain at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. OUTCOMES: The health outcomes considered were changes in blood pressure and in morbidity and mortality rates. Because of insufficient evidence, no economic outcomes were considered. EVIDENCE: A MEDLINE search was conducted for the period 1966-1997 with the terms exercise, exertion, physical activity, hypertension and blood pressure. Both reports of trials and review articles were obtained. Other relevant evidence was obtained from the reference lists of these articles, from the personal files of the authors and through contacts with experts. The articles were reviewed, classified according to study design and graded according to level of evidence. VALUES: A high value was placed on avoidance of cardiovascular morbidity and premature death caused by untreated hypertension. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: Physical activity of moderate intensity involving rhythmic movements with the lower limbs for 50-60 minutes, 3 or 4 times per week, reduces blood pressure and appears to be more effective than vigorous exercise. Harm is uncommon and is generally restricted to the musculoskeletal injuries that may occur with any repetitive activity. Injury occurs more often with jogging than with walking, cycling or swimming. The costs include the costs of appropriate shoes, garments and equipment, but these were not specifically measured. RECOMMENDATIONS: (1) People with mild hypertension should engage in 50-60 minutes of moderate rhythmic exercise of the lower limbs, such as brisk walking or cycling, 3 or 4 times per week to reduce blood pressure, (2) Exercise should be prescribed as an adjunctive therapy for people who require pharmacologic therapy for hypertension, especially those who are not receiving beta-blockers. (3) People who do not have hypertension should participate in regular exercise as it will decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, although there is no direct evidence that it will prevent hypertension. VALIDATION: These recommendations agree with those of the World Hypertension League, the American College of Sports Medicine, the report of the US Surgeon General on physical activity and health, and the US National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel on Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health. These guidelines have not been clinically tested. SPONSORS: The Canadian Hypertension Society, the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
PMCID: PMC1230336  PMID: 10333850
25.  A cross-curricular physical activity intervention to combat cardiovascular disease risk factors in 11-14 year olds: 'Activity Knowledge Circuit' 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:466.
Background
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality worldwide. Risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease have been shown to track from childhood through to adulthood. Previous school-based physical activity interventions have demonstrated modest improvements to cardiovascular disease risk factors by implementing extra-curricular activities or improving current physical education curriculum. Few have attempted to increase physical activity in class-room taught curriculum subjects. This study will outline a school-based cross-curricular physical activity intervention to combat cardiovascular disease risk factors in 11-14 year old children.
Method/Design
A South Wales Valley school of low socio-economic status has been selected to take part. Participants from year eight (12-13 years) are to be assigned to an intervention group, with maturation-matched participants from years seven (11-12 years) and nine (13-14 years) assigned to a control group. A cross-curricular physical activity intervention will be implemented to increase activity by two hours a week for 18 weeks. Participants will briskly walk 3200 m twice weekly during curriculum lessons (60 minutes duration). With the exception of physical education, all curriculum subjects will participate, with each subject delivering four intervention lessons. The intervention will be performed outdoors and on school premises. An indoor course of equal distance will be used during adverse weather conditions. Cardiovascular disease risk factors will be measured pre- and post-intervention for intervention and control groups. These will take place during physical education lessons and will include measures of stature, mass, waist, hip, and neck circumferences, together with skinfold measure's taken at four sites. Blood pressure will be measured, and fitness status assessed via the 20 m multi-stage fitness test. Questionnaires will be used to determine activity behaviour (physical activity questionnaire for adolescence), diet (seven day food diary) and maturation status. Fasting blood variables will include total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, glucose, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, adiponectin, and fibrinogen. Motivational variables and psychological well-being will be assessed by questionnaire.
Discussion
Our study may prove to be a cost effective strategy to increase school time physical activity to combat cardiovascular disease risk factors in children.
Trial Registration
[NCT00998478]
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-466
PMCID: PMC2803189  PMID: 20003492

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