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1.  Changes in physical activity during the transition from primary to secondary school in Belgian children: what is the role of the school environment? 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:261.
Background
Key life periods have been associated with changes in physical activity (PA). This study investigated (1) how PA changes when primary school children transfer to secondary school, (2) if school environmental characteristics differ between primary and secondary schools and (3) if changes in school environmental characteristics can predict changes in PA in Belgian schoolchildren. Moderating effects of gender and the baseline level of PA were investigated for the first and third research question.
Methods
In total, 736 children (10–13 years) of the last year of primary school participated in the first phase of this longitudinal study. Two years later, 502 of these children (68.2%) agreed to participate in the second phase. Accelerometers, pedometers and the Flemish Physical Activity Questionnaire were used to measure PA. School environmental characteristics were reported by the school principals. Cross-classified regression models were conducted to analyze the data.
Results
S elf-reported active transport to school and accelerometer weekday moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) increased after the transition to secondary school while self-reported extracurricular PA and total PA decreased. Pedometer weekday step counts decreased, but this decrease was only apparent among those who achieved the PA guidelines in primary school.
Secondary schools scored higher on the school environmental characteristics: provision of sports and PA during lunch break, active schoolyards and playgrounds and health education policy but lower on sports and PA after-school than primary schools.
Changes in the school environmental characteristics: active commuting to school, active schoolyards and playgrounds and health education policy resulted in changes in self-reported extracurricular PA, total PA , pedometer/accelerometer determined step counts and accelerometer determined MVPA. Moderating effects were found for baseline PA and gender.
Conclusion
PA changed after the transition to secondary school. In general, secondary schools seem more likely to foster strategies to promote PA during school hours than primary schools who seem more likely to foster strategies to promote PA after school. Changes in school environmental characteristics may contribute to changes in PA. Thus, if confirmed in future studies, efforts are needed to implement these components in schools as early as possible to positively affect the change in PA.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-261
PMCID: PMC3995550  PMID: 24645802
2.  Do extra compulsory physical education lessons mean more physically active children - findings from the childhood health, activity, and motor performance school study Denmark (The CHAMPS-study DK) 
Background
Primarily, this study aims to examine whether children attending sports schools are more active than their counterpart attending normal schools. Secondary, the study aims to examine if physical activity (PA) levels in specific domains differ across school types. Finally, potential modifications by status of overweight/obesity and poor cardio-respiratory fitness are examined.
Methods
Participants were from the first part of the CHAMPS-study DK, which included approximately 1200 children attending the 0th – 6th grade. At the sports schools, the mandatory physical education (PE) program was increased from 2 to 6 weekly lessons over a 3-year period. Children attending normal schools were offered the standard 2 PE lessons. PA was assessed at two different occasions with the GT3X ActiGraph accelerometer, once during winter in 2009/10 and once during summer/fall in 2010. Leisure time organized sports participation was quantified by SMS track. Based on baseline values in 2008, we generated a high-BMI and a low-cardio-respiratory fitness for age and sex group variable.
Results
There were no significant differences in PA levels during total time, PE, or recess between children attending sports schools and normal schools, respectively. However, children, especially boys, attending sports schools were more active during school time than children attending normal schools (girls: β=51, p=0.065; boys: β=113, p<0.001). However, in the leisure time during weekdays children who attended sports schools were less active (girls: β=-41, p=0.004; boys: β=-72, p<0.001) and less involved in leisure time organized sports participation (girls: β=-0.4, p=0.016; boys: β=-0.2, p=0.236) than children who attended normal schools. Examination of modification by baseline status of overweight/obesity and low cardio-respiratory fitness indicated that during PE low fit girls in particular were more active at sports schools.
Conclusion
No differences were revealed in overall PA levels between children attending sports schools and normal schools. Sports schools children were more active than normal schools children during school time, but less active during leisure time. In girls, less organized sports participation at least partly explained the observed differences in PA levels during leisure time across school types. Baseline status of cardio-respiratory fitness modified school type differences in PA levels during PE in girls.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12966-014-0121-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12966-014-0121-0
PMCID: PMC4180151  PMID: 25248973
Physical activity; Physical education; School-based; Organized sports; Children; Objective monitoring; Accelerometry; CHAMPS-study DK
3.  Extracurricular school-based sports as a motivating vehicle for sports participation in youth: a cross-sectional study 
Background
Extracurricular school-based sports are considered to be an ideal means of reaching children who are not active in community sports. The purposes of this study were to examine the extent to which pupils not engaging in community sports do participate in extracurricular school-based sports, and to assess whether extracurricular school-based sports participants are more physically active and/or more autonomously motivated towards sports in daily life than children who do not participate in extracurricular school-based sports.
Methods
One thousand forty-nine children (53.7% boys; M age = 11.02 years, SD = 0.02) out of 60 classes from 30 Flemish elementary schools, with an extracurricular school-based sports offer, completed validated questionnaires to assess physical activity (Flemish Physical Activity Questionnaire) and motivation (Behavioral Regulations in Physical Education Questionnaire). Multilevel regression analyses were conducted to examine the data generated from these questionnaires.
Results
More than three quarters of the children (76%) reported participating in extracurricular school-based sports during the current school year and 73% reported engaging in organized community sports. Almost two third of the children (65%) not participating in community sports stated that they did participate in extracurricular school-based sports. Extracurricular school-based sports participants were significantly more physically active than children not participating in extracurricular school-based sports (β = 157.62, p < 0.001). Significant three-way interactions (sex × extracurricular school-based sports participation × community sports participation) were found for autonomous motivation, with boys engaging in extracurricular school-based sports but not in community sports being significantly more autonomously motivated towards sports than boys not engaging in community or extracurricular school-based sports (β = 0.58, p = 0.003). Such differences were not noted among girls.
Conclusions
If extracurricular school-based sports are offered at school, the vast majority of elementary school children participate. Although extracurricular school-based sports attract many children already engaging in community sports, they also reach almost two third of the children who do not participate in community sports but who might also be optimally motivated towards sports. As children participating in extracurricular school-based sports are more physically active than children who do not participate, extracurricular school-based sports participation can be considered to contribute to an active lifestyle for these participating children.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-48
PMCID: PMC4233643  PMID: 24708585
Extracurricular school-based sports; Community sports; Physical activity; Motivation; Self-determination theory
4.  Seasonal variation in musculoskeletal extremity injuries in school children aged 6–12 followed prospectively over 2.5 years: a cohort study 
BMJ Open  2014;4(1):e004165.
Objectives
The type and level of physical activity in children vary over seasons and might thus influence the injury patterns. However, very little information is available on the distribution of injuries over the calendar year. This study aims to describe and analyse the seasonal variation in extremity injuries in children.
Design
Prospective cohort study.
Setting
10 public schools in the municipality of Svendborg, Denmark.
Participants
A total of 1259 school children aged 6–12 years participating in the Childhood Health, Activity, and Motor Performance School Study Denmark.
Methods
School children were surveyed each week during 2.5 school-years. Musculoskeletal injuries were reported by parents answering automated mobile phone text questions (SMS-Track) on a weekly basis and diagnosed by clinicians. Data were analysed for prevalence and incidence rates over time with adjustments for gender and age.
Results
Injuries in the lower extremities were reported most frequently (n=1049). There was a significant seasonal variation in incidence and prevalence for lower extremity injuries and for lower and upper extremity injuries combined (n=1229). For the upper extremities (n=180), seasonal variation had a significant effect on the risk of prevalence. Analysis showed a 46% increase in injury incidence and a 32% increase in injury prevalence during summer relative to winter for lower and upper extremity injuries combined.
Conclusions
There are clear seasonal differences in the occurrence of musculoskeletal extremity injuries among children with almost twice as high injury incidence and prevalence estimates during autumn, summer and spring compared with winter. This suggests further research into the underlying causes for seasonal variation and calls for preventive strategies to be implemented in order to actively prepare and supervise children before and during high-risk periods.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004165
PMCID: PMC3902503  PMID: 24401728
Public Health; Sports Medicine
5.  Increasing Specificity of Correlate Research: Exploring Correlates of Children’s Lunchtime and After-School Physical Activity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96460.
Background
The lunchtime and after-school contexts are critical windows in a school day for children to be physically active. While numerous studies have investigated correlates of children’s habitual physical activity, few have explored correlates of physical activity occurring at lunchtime and after-school from a social-ecological perspective. Exploring correlates that influence physical activity occurring in specific contexts can potentially improve the prediction and understanding of physical activity. Using a context-specific approach, this study investigated correlates of children’s lunchtime and after-school physical activity.
Methods
Cross-sectional data were collected from 423 South Australian children aged 10.0–13.9 years (200 boys; 223 girls) attending 10 different schools. Lunchtime and after-school physical activity was assessed using accelerometers. Correlates were assessed using purposely developed context-specific questionnaires. Correlated Component Regression analysis was conducted to derive correlates of context-specific physical activity and determine the variance explained by prediction equations.
Results
The model of boys’ lunchtime physical activity contained 6 correlates and explained 25% of the variance. For girls, the model explained 17% variance from 9 correlates. Enjoyment of walking during lunchtime was the strongest correlate for both boys and girls. Boys’ and girls’ after-school physical activity models explained 20% variance from 14 correlates and 7% variance from the single item correlate, “I do an organised sport or activity after-school because it gets you fit”, respectively.
Conclusions
Increasing specificity of correlate research has enabled the identification of unique features of, and a more in-depth interpretation of, lunchtime and after-school physical activity behaviour and is a potential strategy for advancing the physical activity correlate research field. The findings of this study could be used to inform and tailor gender-specific public health messages and interventions for promoting lunchtime and after-school physical activity in children.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096460
PMCID: PMC4014506  PMID: 24809440
6.  Impact of a nurse-directed, coordinated school health program to enhance physical activity behaviors and reduce body mass index among minority children: A parallel-group, randomized control trial 
Background
Underserved children, particularly girls and those in urban communities, do not meet the recommended physical activity guidelines (>60 min of daily physical activity), and this behavior can lead to obesity. The school years are known to be a critical period in the life course for shaping attitudes and behaviors. Children look to schools for much of their access to physical activity. Thus, through the provision of appropriate physical activity programs, schools have the power to influence apt physical activity choices, especially for underserved children where disparities in obesity-related outcomes exist.
Objectives
To evaluate the impact of a nurse directed, coordinated, culturally sensitive, school-based, family-centered lifestyle program on activity behaviors and body mass index. Design, settings and participants: This was a parallel group, randomized controlled trial utilizing a community-based participatory research approach, through a partnership with a University and 5 community schools. Participants included 251 children ages 8–12 from elementary schools in urban, low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles, USA.
Methods
The intervention included Kids N Fitness©, a 6-week program which met weekly to provide 45 min of structured physical activity and a 45 min nutrition education class for parents and children. Intervention sites also participated in school-wide wellness activities, including health and counseling services, staff professional development in health promotion, parental education newsletters, and wellness policies for the provision of healthy foods at the school. The Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health School Physical Activity and Nutrition Student Questionnaire measured physical activity behavior, including: daily physical activity, participation in team sports, attending physical education class, and TV viewing/computer game playing. Anthropometric measures included height, weight, body mass index, resting blood pressure, and waist circumference. Measures were collected at baseline, completion of the intervention phase (4 months), and 12 months post-intervention.
Results
Significant results for students in the intervention, included for boys decreases in TV viewing; and girls increases in daily physical activity, physical education class attendance, and decreases in body mass index z-scores from baseline to the 12 month follow-up.
Conclusions
Our study shows the value of utilizing nurses to implement a culturally sensitive, coordinated, intervention to decrease disparities in activity and TV viewing among underserved girls and boys.
doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2012.09.004
PMCID: PMC3654538  PMID: 23021318
Community based participatory research; Gender; Health disparities; Obesity in children; Physical activity; School-based interventions
7.  Effect of intervention aimed at increasing physical activity, reducing sedentary behaviour, and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in children: Active for Life Year 5 (AFLY5) school based cluster randomised controlled trial 
Objective To investigate the effectiveness of a school based intervention to increase physical activity, reduce sedentary behaviour, and increase fruit and vegetable consumption in children.
Design Cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting 60 primary schools in the south west of England.
Participants Primary school children who were in school year 4 (age 8-9 years) at recruitment and baseline assessment, in year 5 during the intervention, and at the end of year 5 (age 9-10) at follow-up assessment.
Intervention The Active for Life Year 5 (AFLY5) intervention consisted of teacher training, provision of lesson and child-parent interactive homework plans, all materials required for lessons and homework, and written materials for school newsletters and parents. The intervention was delivered when children were in school year 5 (age 9-10 years). Schools allocated to control received standard teaching.
Main outcome measures The pre-specified primary outcomes were accelerometer assessed minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, accelerometer assessed minutes of sedentary behaviour per day, and reported daily consumption of servings of fruit and vegetables.
Results 60 schools with more than 2221 children were recruited; valid data were available for fruit and vegetable consumption for 2121 children, for accelerometer assessed physical activity and sedentary behaviour for 1252 children, and for secondary outcomes for between 1825 and 2212 children for the main analyses. None of the three primary outcomes differed between children in schools allocated to the AFLY5 intervention and those allocated to the control group. The difference in means comparing the intervention group with the control group was –1.35 (95% confidence interval –5.29 to 2.59) minutes per day for moderate to vigorous physical activity, –0.11 (–9.71 to 9.49) minutes per day for sedentary behaviour, and 0.08 (–0.12 to 0.28) servings per day for fruit and vegetable consumption. The intervention was effective for three out of nine of the secondary outcomes after multiple testing was taken into account: self reported time spent in screen viewing at the weekend (–21 (–37 to –4) minutes per day), self reported servings of snacks per day (–0.22 (–0.38 to –0.05)), and servings of high energy drinks per day (–0.26 (–0.43 to –0.10)) were all reduced. Results from a series of sensitivity analyses testing different assumptions about missing data and from per protocol analyses produced similar results.
Conclusion The findings suggest that the AFLY5 school based intervention is not effective at increasing levels of physical activity, decreasing sedentary behaviour, and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in primary school children. Change in these activities may require more intensive behavioural interventions with children or upstream interventions at the family and societal level, as well as at the school environment level. These findings have relevance for researchers, policy makers, public health practitioners, and doctors who are involved in health promotion, policy making, and commissioning services.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN50133740.
doi:10.1136/bmj.g3256
PMCID: PMC4035503  PMID: 24865166
8.  Health promotion in primary and secondary schools in Denmark: time trends and associations with schools’ and students’ characteristics 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:93.
Background
Schools are important arenas for interventions among children as health promoting initiatives in childhood is expected to have substantial influence on health and well-being in adulthood. In countries with compulsory school attention, all children could potentially benefit from health promotion at the school level regardless of socioeconomic status or other background factors. The first aim was to elucidate time trends in the number and types of school health promoting activities by describing the number and type of health promoting activities in primary and secondary schools in Denmark. The second aim was to investigate which characteristics of schools and students that are associated with participation in many (≥3) versus few (0–2) health promoting activities during the preceding 2–3 years.
Methods
We used cross-sectional data from the 2006- and 2010-survey of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study. The headmasters answered questions about the school’s participation in health promoting activities and about school size, proportion of ethnic minorities, school facilities available for health promoting activities, competing problems and resources at the school and in the neighborhood. Students provided information about their health-related behavior and exposure to bullying which was aggregated to the school level. A total of 74 schools were available for analyses in 2006 and 69 in 2010. We used chi-square test, t-test, and binary logistic regression to analyze time trends and differences between schools engaging in many versus few health promoting activities.
Results
The percentage of schools participating in ≥3 health promoting activities was 63% in 2006 and 61% in 2010. Also the mean number of health promoting activities was similar (3.14 vs. 3.07). The activities most frequently targeted physical activity (73% and 85%) and bullying (78% and 67%). Schools’ participation in anti-smoking activities was significantly higher in 2006 compared with 2010 (46% vs. 29%). None of the investigated variables were associated with schools’ participation in health promoting activities.
Conclusion
In a Danish context, schools’ participation in health promotion was rather stable from 2006 to 2010 and unrelated to the measured characteristics of the schools and their students.
doi:10.1186/s12889-015-1440-z
PMCID: PMC4335421
Alcohol; Anti-smoking; Bullying; Diet; Physical activity; Sex education
9.  Fit in 50 years: participation in high school sports best predicts one’s physical activity after Age 70 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1100.
Background
The health benefits of physical activity are widely established, including decreased risk for disease and improved mental well-being. Yet many children, adolescents, and adults do not meet the minimum recommendations specified in current public health guidelines and physical activity is known to decrease during the life course. The aim of this study was to identify background or personality characteristics that predict whether a healthy 25 year-old would become a physically active 75 year-old. This could have powerful implications for targeting physical activity and health interventions.
Method
A unique data set was collected of 712 healthy United States males who passed a rigorous physical exam in the 1940s and who were surveyed 50 years later (in 2000). Their physical activity level after 50 years was correlated and regressed across a wide number of demographic, behavioral, and personality variables from when they were 50 years younger. Data was analyzed in 2012.
Results
In contrast to prior beliefs, self-rated personality profile as a young man had little predictive influence on later-life physical activity. Instead, the single strongest predictor of later-life physical activity was whether he played a varsity sport in high school, and this was also related to fewer self-reported visits to the doctor.
Conclusion
Encouraging systematic or frequent physical activity at a young age - whether through school sports or club opportunities - might be the best investment in long-term activeness. This is relevant at a time when funding for many sports programs is being eliminated and play time is being replaced with screen time.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1100
PMCID: PMC3909353  PMID: 24289060
Exercise; Sports; Athletes; Retirement; Veterans; High school athletics; Football; Basketball; Baseball; Track; Elderly; Physical activity
10.  Infant Motor Development Predicts Sports Participation at Age 14 Years: Northern Finland Birth Cohort of 1966 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6837.
Background
Motor proficiency is positively associated with physical activity levels. The aim of this study is to investigate associations between the timing of infant motor development and subsequent sports participation during adolescence.
Methods
Prospective observational study. The study population consisted of 9,009 individuals from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. Motor development was assessed by parental report at age 1 year, using age at walking with support and age at standing unaided. At follow up aged 14 years, data were collected on the school grade awarded for physical education (PE). Self report was used to collect information on the frequency of sports participation and number of different sports reported.
Principal Findings
Earlier infant motor development was associated with improved school PE grade, for age at walking supported (p<0.001) and standing unaided (p = <0.001). Earlier infant motor development, in terms of age at walking supported, was positively associated with the number of different sports reported (p = 0.003) and with a greater frequency of sports participation (p = 0.043). These associations were independent of gestational age and birth weight, as well as father's social class and body mass index at age 14 years.
Conclusions
Earlier infant motor development may predict higher levels of physical activity as indicated by higher school PE grade, participation in a greater number of different types of sports and increased frequency of sports participation. Identification of young children with slower motor development may allow early targeted interventions to improve motor skills and thereby increase physical activity in later life.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006837
PMCID: PMC2729394  PMID: 19718258
11.  Physical Aggression During Early Childhood: Trajectories and Predictors 
Pediatrics  2004;114(1):e43-e50.
Objectives
Physical aggression in children is a major public health problem. Not only is childhood physical aggression a precursor of the physical and mental health problems that will be visited on victims, but also aggressive children themselves are at higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse, accidents, violent crimes, depression, suicide attempts, spouse abuse, and neglectful and abusive parenting. Furthermore, violence commonly results in serious injuries to the perpetrators themselves. Although it is unusual for young children to harm seriously the targets of their physical aggression, studies of physical aggression during infancy indicate that by 17 months of age, the large majority of children are physically aggressive toward siblings, peers, and adults. This study aimed, first, to identify the trajectories of physical aggression during early childhood and, second, to identify antecedents of high levels of physical aggression early in life. Such antecedents could help to understand better the developmental origins of violence later in life and to identify targets for preventive interventions.
Methods
A random population sample of 572 families with a 5-month-old newborn was recruited. Assessments of physical aggression frequency were obtained from mothers at 17, 30, and 42 months after birth. Using a semiparametric, mixture model, distinct clusters of physical aggression trajectories were identified. Multivariate logit regression analysis was then used to identify which family and child characteristics, before 5 months of age, predict individuals on a high-level physical aggression trajectory from 17 to 42 months after birth.
Results
Three trajectories of physical aggression were identified. The first was composed of children who displayed little or no physical aggression. These individuals were estimated to account for ~28% of the sample. The largest group, estimated at ~58% of the sample, followed a rising trajectory of modest aggression. Finally, a group, estimated to comprise ~14% of the sample, followed a rising trajectory of high physical aggression. Best predictors before or at birth of the high physical aggression trajectory group, controlling for the levels of the other risk factors, were having young siblings (odds ratio [OR]: 4.00; confidence interval [CI]: 2.2–7.4), mothers with high levels of antisocial behavior before the end of high school (OR: 3.1; CI: 1.1–8.6), mothers who started having children early (OR: 3.1; CI: 1.4–6.8), families with low income (OR: 2.6; CI: 1.3–5.2), and mothers who smoked during pregnancy (OR: 2.2; CI: 1.1–4.1). Best predictors at 5 months of age were mothers’ coercive parenting behavior (OR: 2.3; CI: 1.1–4.7) and family dysfunction (OR: 2.2; CI: 1.2–4.1). The OR for a high-aggression trajectory was 10.9 for children whose mother reported both high levels of antisocial behavior and early childbearing.
Conclusions
Most children have initiated the use of physical aggression during infancy, and most will learn to use alternatives in the following years before they enter primary school. Humans seem to learn to regulate the use of physical aggression during the preschool years. Those who do not, seem to be at highest risk of serious violent behavior during adolescence and adulthood. Results from the present study indicate that children who are at highest risk of not learning to regulate physical aggression in early childhood have mothers with a history of antisocial behavior during their school years, mothers who start childbearing early and who smoke during pregnancy, and parents who have low income and have serious problems living together. All of these variables are relatively easy to measure during pregnancy. Preventive interventions should target families with high-risk profiles on these variables. Experiments with such programs have shown long-term impacts on child abuse and child antisocial behavior. However, these impacts were not observed in families with physical violence. The problem may be that the prevention programs that were provided did not specifically target the parents’ control over their physical aggression and their skills in teaching their infant not to be physically aggressive. Most intervention programs to prevent youth physical aggression have targeted school-age children. If children normally learn not to be physically aggressive during the preschool years, then one would expect that interventions that target infants who are at high risk of chronic physical aggression would have more of an impact than interventions 5 to 10 years later, when physical aggression has become a way of life.
PMCID: PMC3283570  PMID: 15231972 CAMSID: cams2126
physical aggression; early childhood; trajectories; predictors
12.  School Playground Surfacing and Arm Fractures in Children: A Cluster Randomized Trial Comparing Sand to Wood Chip Surfaces 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(12):e1000195.
In a randomized trial of elementary schools in Toronto, Andrew Howard and colleagues show that granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with wood fiber surfaces.
Background
The risk of playground injuries, especially fractures, is prevalent in children, and can result in emergency room treatment and hospital admissions. Fall height and surface area are major determinants of playground fall injury risk. The primary objective was to determine if there was a difference in playground upper extremity fracture rates in school playgrounds with wood fibre surfacing versus granite sand surfacing. Secondary objectives were to determine if there were differences in overall playground injury rates or in head injury rates in school playgrounds with wood fibre surfacing compared to school playgrounds with granite sand surfacing.
Methods and Findings
The cluster randomized trial comprised 37 elementary schools in the Toronto District School Board in Toronto, Canada with a total of 15,074 students. Each school received qualified funding for installation of new playground equipment and surfacing. The risk of arm fracture from playground falls onto granitic sand versus onto engineered wood fibre surfaces was compared, with an outcome measure of estimated arm fracture rate per 100,000 student-months. Schools were randomly assigned by computer generated list to receive either a granitic sand or an engineered wood fibre playground surface (Fibar), and were not blinded. Schools were visited to ascertain details of the playground and surface actually installed and to observe the exposure to play and to periodically monitor the depth of the surfacing material. Injury data, including details of circumstance and diagnosis, were collected at each school by a prospective surveillance system with confirmation of injury details through a validated telephone interview with parents and also through collection (with consent) of medical reports regarding treated injuries. All schools were recruited together at the beginning of the trial, which is now closed after 2.5 years of injury data collection. Compliant schools included 12 schools randomized to Fibar that installed Fibar and seven schools randomized to sand that installed sand. Noncompliant schools were added to the analysis to complete a cohort type analysis by treatment received (two schools that were randomized to Fibar but installed sand and seven schools that were randomized to sand but installed Fibar). Among compliant schools, an arm fracture rate of 1.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.04–6.9) per 100,000 student-months was observed for falls into sand, compared with an arm fracture rate of 9.4 (95% CI 3.7–21.4) for falls onto Fibar surfaces (p≤0.04905). Among all schools, the arm fracture rate was 4.5 (95% CI 0.26–15.9) per 100,000 student-months for falls into sand compared with 12.9 (95% CI 5.1–30.1) for falls onto Fibar surfaces. No serious head injuries and no fatalities were observed in either group.
Conclusions
Granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with engineered wood fibre surfaces. Upgrading playground surfacing standards to reflect this information will prevent arm fractures.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN02647424
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment provide children with a place to let steam off, play creatively, socialize, and learn new skills. And, in a world where childhood obesity is a burgeoning problem, playgrounds provide a place where children can be encouraged to exercise. But playgrounds are not without hazards. Even in well-maintained and well-run facilities, children can hurt themselves by falling off climbing frames, monkey bars, and other equipment or by falling from standing height during playground games such as tag. In the US alone, more than 200,000 children are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained in playgrounds every year and about 6,400 children are admitted to hospitals because of playground injuries, most of which are bone fractures (broken bones). In fact, playground injuries in the US are more severe and have a higher hospital admission rate than any other sort of child injury except those involving vehicles.
Why Was This Study Done?
Children who fall off playground equipment are nearly four times as likely to break a bone (often in an arm) as children who fall from standing height. To reduce the number of fractures that occur in playgrounds, some governments have limited the height of playground equipment. Some have also set standards for the type of surfaces installed in playgrounds and for the depth of sand or engineered wood fiber in loose fill surfaces. These standards are based on laboratory tests in which headforms (artificial heads) are dropped onto surfaces. However, these tests provide no information about the ability of different surfaces to prevent broken arms and other specific injuries in the real world. In this cluster randomized trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive different interventions), the researchers compare the rates of arm fractures in elementary (primary) school playgrounds in Toronto (Canada) that have wood fiber surfacing with the rates in playgrounds that have granite sand surfacing.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned 37 elementary schools that had qualified for school board funding for replacement playground equipment to receive either wood fiber (19 schools) or granite sand surfacing (18 schools) in their playgrounds. 19 of the schools complied with their randomization (12 installed fiber and seven installed sand); two schools installed sand although they were randomized to install fiber and seven schools installed fiber instead of sand. The researchers evaluated the playgrounds and their surfaces several times during the 2.5-year study and collected data on how playground injuries happened and types of injuries from the schools, parents, and medical reports. Among the schools that complied with randomization, falls from height into sand resulted in 1.9 arm fractures per 100,000 student-months whereas falls into fiber resulted in 9.4 arm fractures per 100,000 student-months. Arm fracture rates and other injury rates were also higher for falls from height into fiber than into sand when all the schools that had installed new surfaces were considered. However, the rates of arm fracture and other injuries that did not involve a fall from height did not vary between surfaces.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The accuracy of these findings is limited by the small number of arm fractures that occurred during the trial—only 20 children who fell into fiber and two who fell into sand broke an arm. The accuracy of the findings may also be limited by the failure of many schools to comply with randomization although the researchers found no obvious differences between the schools that did and did not comply with randomization that might have affected the trial's outcome. However, even with these limitations, the findings of this real-world study indicate that granitic sand surfaces substantially reduce the risk of arm fractures and other injuries caused by falls from playground equipment when compared with wood fiber surfaces. Thus, because falls from playground equipment are more likely to cause a fracture than falls from standing height, if playground surfacing standards are adjusted to reflect the findings of this study (that is, if sand surfaces are recommended in preference to wood fiber surfaces), many arm fractures in children should be prevented.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at ttp://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000195.
Safe Kids Canada provides information about playground safety and other aspects of childhood safety (in English and French)
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury (in English and Spanish)
The Nemours Foundation, a nonprofit organization for child health, provides information for parents on playground safety
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents provides information on the safety of indoor and outdoor play areas
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides fact sheets on playground injuries
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission also has information on playground safety, including resources designed for children such as The Further Adventures of Kidd Safety and Little Big Kids, a booklet on play safety written by children for children
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000195
PMCID: PMC2784292  PMID: 20016688
13.  Individual, social and physical environmental correlates of ‘never’ and ‘always’ cycling to school among 10 to 12 year old children living within a 3.0 km distance from school 
Background
Cycling to school has been identified as an important target for increasing physical activity levels in children. However, knowledge about correlates of cycling to school is scarce as many studies did not make a distinction between walking and cycling to school. Moreover, correlates of cycling to school for those who live within a distance, that in theory would allow cycling to school, stay undiscovered. Therefore, this study examined individual, social and physical environmental correlates of never and always cycling to/from school among 10 to 12 year old Belgian children living within a 3.0 km distance from school.
Methods
850 parents completed a questionnaire to assess personal, family, behavioral, cognitive, social and physical environmental factors related to the cycling behavior of their children. Parents indicated on a question matrix how many days a week their child (1) walked, (2) cycled, was (3) driven by car or (4) public transport to and from school during fall, winter and spring. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine the correlates.
Results
Overall, 39.3% of children never cycled to school and 16.5% of children always cycled to school. Children with high levels of independent mobility and good cycling skills perceived by their parents were more likely to always cycle to school (resp. OR 1.06; 95% CI 1.04-1.15 and OR 1.08; 95% CI 1.01-1.16) and less likely to never cycle to school (resp. OR 0.84; 95% CI 0.78-0.91 and OR 0.77; 95% CI 0.7-0.84). Children with friends who encourage them to cycle to school were more likely to always cycle to school (OR 1.08; 95% CI 1.01-1.15) and less likely to never cycle to school (OR 0.9; 95% CI 0.83-1.0). In addition, children with parents who encourage them to cycle to school were less likely to never cycle to school (OR 0.78; 95% CI 0.7-0.87). Regarding the physical environmental factors, only neighborhood traffic safety was significantly associated with cycling: i.e., children were more likely to always cycle to school if neighborhood traffic was perceived as safe by their parents (OR 1.18; 95% CI 1.07-1.31).
Conclusion
Individual, social and physical environmental factors were associated with children’s cycling behavior to/from school. However, the contribution of the physical environment is limited and highlights the fact that interventions for increasing cycling to school should not focus solely on the physical environment.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-9-142
PMCID: PMC3541214  PMID: 23228003
Cycling; Children; Correlates; Distance
14.  Study protocol: rehabilitation including social and physical activity and education in children and teenagers with cancer (RESPECT) 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:544.
Background
During cancer treatment children have reduced contact with their social network of friends, and have limited participation in education, sports, and leisure activities. During and following cancer treatment, children describe school related problems, reduced physical fitness, and problems related to interaction with peers.
Methods/design
The RESPECT study is a nationwide population-based prospective, controlled, mixed-methods intervention study looking at children aged 6-18 years newly diagnosed with cancer in eastern Denmark (n = 120) and a matched control group in western Denmark (n = 120). RESPECT includes Danish-speaking children diagnosed with cancer and treated at pediatric oncology units in Denmark. Primary endpoints are the level of educational achievement one year after the cessation of first-line cancer therapy, and the value of VO2max one year after the cessation of first-line cancer therapy. Secondary endpoints are quality of life measured by validated questionnaires and interviews, and physical performance. RESPECT includes a multimodal intervention program, including ambassador-facilitated educational, physical, and social interventions. The educational intervention includes an educational program aimed at the child with cancer, the child’s schoolteachers and classmates, and the child’s parents. Children with cancer will each have two ambassadors assigned from their class. The ambassadors visit the child with cancer at the hospital at alternating 2-week intervals and participate in the intervention program. The physical and social intervention examines the effect of early, structured, individualized, and continuous physical activity from diagnosis throughout the treatment period. The patients are tested at diagnosis, at 3 and 6 months after diagnosis, and one year after the cessation of treatment. The study is powered to quantify the impact of the combined educational, physical, and social intervention programs.
Discussion
RESPECT is the first population-based study to examine the effect of early rehabilitation for children with cancer, and to use healthy classmates as ambassadors to facilitate the normalization of social life in the hospital. For children with cancer, RESPECT contributes to expanding knowledge on rehabilitation that can also facilitate rehabilitation of other children undergoing hospitalization for long-term illness.
Trial registration
Clinical Trials.gov: file. NCT01772849 and NCT01772862
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-544
PMCID: PMC3832686  PMID: 24229362
Cancer; Pediatric; Children; Rehabilitation; Physical activity; Quality of life; Intervention; Peers; Controlled; School reentry
15.  Evaluating the effects of the Lunchtime Enjoyment Activity and Play (LEAP) school playground intervention on children’s quality of life, enjoyment and participation in physical activity 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:164.
Background
An emerging public health strategy is to enhance children’s opportunities to be physically active during school break periods. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of the Lunchtime Enjoyment Activity and Play (LEAP) school playground intervention on primary school children’s quality of life (QOL), enjoyment and participation in physical activity (PA).
Methods
This study consisted of a movable/recycled materials intervention that included baseline, a 7-week post-test and an 8-month follow-up data collection phase. Children within an intervention school (n = 123) and a matched control school (n = 152) aged 5-to-12-years-old were recruited for the study. Children’s PA was measured using a combination of pedometers and direct observation (SOPLAY). Quality of life, enjoyment of PA and enjoyment of lunchtime activities were assessed in the 8-12 year children. A multi-level mixed effect linear regression model was applied in STATA (version 12.0) using the xtmixed command to fit linear mixed models to each of the variables to examine whether there was a significant difference (p < 0.05) between the intervention and control school at the three time points (pre, post and follow-up).
Results
Significant overall interaction effects (group × time) were identified for children’s mean steps and distance (pedometers) in the intervention school compared to the control school. Intervention school children also spent significantly higher proportions within specified target areas engaged in higher PA intensities in comparison to the control school at both the 7-week post-test and 8-month follow-up. A short-term treatment effect was revealed after 7-weeks for children’s physical health scale QOL, enjoyment of PA and enjoyment of intra-personal play activities.
Conclusions
Examining the effects of this school playground intervention over a school year suggested that the introduction of movable/recycled materials can have a significant, positive long-term intervention effect on children’s PA. The implications from this simple, low-cost intervention provide impetus for schools to consider introducing the concept of a movable/recycled materials intervention on a wider scale within primary school settings.
Trial registration
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registration Number: ACTRN12613001155785.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-164
PMCID: PMC3937016  PMID: 24524375
Physical activity; Primary school; Intervention; Lunchtime; Children; Enjoyment; Quality of life; Recess; School playgrounds
16.  Physical activity and its correlates in children: a cross-sectional study (the GINIplus & LISAplus studies) 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:349.
Background
Physical inactivity among children is an increasing problem that adversely affects children’s health. A better understanding of factors which affect physical activity (PA) will help create effective interventions aimed at raising the activity levels of children. This cross-sectional study examined the associations of PA with individual (biological, social, behavioral, psychological) and environmental (East vs. West Germany, rural vs. urban regions) characteristics in children.
Methods
Information on PA and potential correlates was collected from 1843 girls and 1997 boys using questionnaires during the 10-year follow-up of two prospective birth cohort studies (GINIplus and LISAplus). Study regions represent urban and rural sites as well as East and West of Germany. Logistic regression modeling was applied to examine cross-sectional associations between individual as well as environmental factors and PA levels.
Results
Five of fourteen variables were significantly associated with PA. Among children aged 10, girls tended to be less active than boys, especially with respect to vigorous PA (OR = 0.72 for summer). Children who were not a member of a sports club showed a substantially reduced amount of PA in winter (OR = 0.15). Rural environments promote moderate PA, particularly in winter (OR = 1.88), whereas an increased time outdoors primarily promotes moderate PA in summer (OR = 12.41). Children with abnormal emotional symptoms exhibited reduced physical activity, particularly in winter (OR = 0.60). BMI, puberty, parental BMI, parental education, household income, siblings, TV/PC consumption, and method of arriving school, were not associated with PA.
Conclusions
When considering correlates of PA from several domains simultaneously, only few factors (sex, sports club membership, physical environment, time outdoors, and emotional symptoms) appear to be relevant. Although the causality needs to be ascertained in longitudinal studies, variables which cannot be modified should be used to identify risk groups while modifiable variables, such as sports club activities, may be addressed in intervention programs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-349
PMCID: PMC3641958  PMID: 23587274
Activity; Children; Correlates; Exercise; Inactivity; Determinants; Associations; Behavior; Environment; Social
17.  Cognitive Performance in Late Adolescence and the Subsequent Risk of Subdural Hematoma: An Observational Study of a Prospective Nationwide Cohort 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(12):e1001151.
Anna and Peter Nordström analyzed a prospective nationwide cohort of 440,742 Swedish men and found that reduced cognitive function in young adulthood was associated with increased risk of subdural hematoma later in life, whereas a higher level of education and physical fitness were associated with a decreased risk.
Background
There are few identified risk factors for traumatic brain injuries such as subdural hematoma (SDH). The aim of the present study was to investigate whether low cognitive performance in young adulthood is associated with SDH later in life. A second aim was to investigate whether this risk factor was associated with education and physical fitness.
Methods and Findings
Word recollection, logical, visuospatial, and technical performances were tested at a mean age of 18.5 years in a prospective nation-wide cohort of 440,742 men. An estimate of global intelligence was calculated from these four tests. Associations between cognitive performance, education, physical fitness, and SDH during follow-up were explored using Cox regression analyses. During a median follow-up of 35 years, 863 SDHs were diagnosed in the cohort. Low global intelligence was associated with an increased risk of SDH during follow-up (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.33, per standard deviation decrease, 95% CI = 1.25–1.43). Similar results were obtained for the other measures of cognitive performance (HR: 1.24–1.33, p<0.001 for all). In contrast, a high education (HR: 0.27, comparing more than 2 years of high school and 8 years of elementary school, 95% CI = 0.19–0.39), and a high level of physical fitness (HR: 0.76, per standard deviation increase, 95% CI = 0.70–0.83), was associated with a decreased risk of suffering from a SDH.
Conclusions
The present findings suggest that reduced cognitive function in young adulthood is strongly associated with an increased risk of SDH later in life. In contrast, a higher level of education and a higher physical fitness were associated with a decreased risk of SDH.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 10 million people worldwide sustain a traumatic brain injury that needs medical attention or that proves fatal. Such injuries occur when the head is suddenly hit or jolted or when an object such as a bullet pierces the skull and enters the brain. Motor vehicle accidents are responsible for many traumatic brain injuries, but falls, assaults, and military action can also cause these serious injuries. The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury, which may not appear until many days after the injury, include loss of consciousness, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Affected individuals can experience changes in their memory, concentration, or ability to think clearly (“cognitive” changes) and can have behavioral or emotional problems. Although the initial brain damage caused by trauma cannot be reversed, immediate medical treatment is essential to prevent further injury occurring. In particular, patients need to be monitored for “subdural hematoma,” a common outcome of traumatic brain injury in which blood from ruptured vessels collects between the brain and the skull. Subdural hematoma puts pressure on the brain and has to be removed surgically to prevent further brain damage.
Why Was This Study Done?
Not everyone who has a traumatic brain injury develops subdural hematoma. If the factors that increase a person's risk of developing subdural hematoma could be identified, it might be possible to devise public-health interventions that would reduce the incidence of subdural hematomas. In this prospective population-based analysis, the researchers investigate whether low cognitive performance in early adulthood is associated with subdural hematoma later in life. Impaired cognitive functioning is sometimes recorded as a symptom of subdural hematoma but the researchers hypothesize that these cognitive deficits might have been present before the traumatic head injury that led to subdural hematoma. Low cognitive performance is associated with a reduced ability to compare objects and patterns (perceptual speed) and with impaired judgment, planning, and risk behavior (executive functions), so low cognitive performance might increase a person's risk of having an accident that results in a head injury and subdural hematoma.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers calculated a global intelligence score for 440,742 male Swedish military conscripts (average age 18.5 years) from cognitive tests completed by the men between 1969 and 1978. They obtained information about diagnoses of subdural hematoma up to 40 years later among these men from medical records, and then used several statistical approaches to look for associations between cognitive performance, education (recorded during conscription assignment), physical fitness (measured during conscription assignment), and subsequent subdural hematoma. During the follow-up period, 863 subdural hematomas were diagnosed among the men. Conscripts with a low global intelligence score in early adulthood were more likely to develop subdural hematoma during later life than those with a high score. Specifically, when the men were divided into five groups (quintiles) on the basis of their global intelligence score, men with a score in the lowest quintile were more than twice as likely to develop subdural hematoma as those with a score in the highest quintile. By contrast, men who had had more than 2 years high school education were much less likely to develop subdural hematoma than those who had only had 8 years of elementary school education. A high level of physical fitness in early adulthood also reduced the risk of subdural hematoma.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that low cognitive function in early adulthood is associated with subdural hematoma later in life, whereas high levels of education and physical fitness is associated with a decreased risk of subdural hematoma. Because this study was observational, these findings do not prove that low cognitive performance, low education level, or low physical fitness is causally linked to subdural hematoma. Other unidentified factors (confounders) shared by people with these characteristics might actually be responsible for the observed association between these factors and subdural hematoma. For example, poorly educated people might work in more hazardous environments than those who attended high school. However, if these findings can to be confirmed in other large studies, an exploration of the mechanistic basis of the associations reported here might eventually inform the development of public-health interventions designed to reduce the occurrence of subdural hematoma.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001151.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides detailed information about traumatic brain injury (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides detailed information about traumatic brain injury
The UK National Health Service Choices website has an article about severe head injury that includes a personal story about a head injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident, and an article about subdural hematoma
MedlinePlus provide links to further resources on traumatic brain injury and information on subdural hematoma; it also provides an interactive tutorial on traumatic brain injury (available in English and Spanish)
The UK charity Headway, which works to improve life after brain injury, has a collection of personal stories about brain injury
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001151
PMCID: PMC3246434  PMID: 22215989
18.  Caring for children with physical disability in Kenya: potential links between caregiving and carers' physical health 
Child  2013;39(3):381-392.
Background
The health of a carer is a key factor which can affect the well-being of the child with disabilities for whom they care. In low-income countries, many carers of children with disabilities contend with poverty, limited public services and lack assistive devices. In these situations caregiving may require more physical work than in high-income countries and so carry greater risk of physical injury or health problems. There is some evidence that poverty and limited access to health care and equipment may affect the physical health of those who care for children with disabilities. This study seeks to understand this relationship more clearly.
Methods
A mixed methods study design was used to identify the potential physical health effects of caring for a child with moderate-severe motor impairments in Kilifi, Kenya. Qualitative data from in-depth interviews were thematically analysed and triangulated with data collected during structured physiotherapy assessment.
Results
Carers commonly reported chronic spinal pain of moderate to severe intensity, which affected essential activities. However, carers differed in how they perceived their physical health to be affected by caregiving, also reporting positive benefits or denying detrimental effects. Carers focussed on support in two key areas; the provision of simple equipment and support for their children to physically access and attend school.
Conclusions
Carers of children with moderate-severe motor impairments live with their own physical health challenges. While routine assessments lead to diagnosis of simple musculoskeletal pain syndromes, the overall health status and situation of carers may be more complex. As a consequence, the role of rehabilitation therapists may need to be expanded to effectively evaluate and support carers' health needs. The provision of equipment to improve their child's mobility, respite care or transport to enable school attendance is likely to be helpful to carers and children alike.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2214.2012.01398.x
PMCID: PMC3654176  PMID: 22823515
Africa; caregiving; carers; developing countries; disability; health
19.  Rationale, design and methods for a randomised and controlled trial to evaluate "Animal Fun" - a program designed to enhance physical and mental health in young children 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:78.
Background
Children with poor motor ability have been found to engage less in physical activities than other children, and a lack of physical activity has been linked to problems such as obesity, lowered bone mineral density and cardiovascular risk factors. Furthermore, if children are confident with their fine and gross motor skills, they are more likely to engage in physical activities such as sports, crafts, dancing and other physical activity programs outside of the school curriculum which are important activities for psychosocial development. The primary objective of this project is to comprehensively evaluate a whole of class physical activity program called Animal Fun designed for Pre-Primary children. This program was designed to improve the child's movement skills, both fine and gross, and their perceptions of their movement ability, promote appropriate social skills and improve social-emotional development.
Methods
The proposed randomized and controlled trial uses a multivariate nested cohort design to examine the physical (motor coordination) and psychosocial (self perceptions, anxiety, social competence) outcomes of the program. The Animal Fun program is a teacher delivered universal program incorporating animal actions to facilitate motor skill and social skill acquisition and practice. Pre-intervention scores on motor and psychosocial variables for six control schools and six intervention schools will be compared with post-intervention scores (end of Pre-Primary year) and scores taken 12 months later after the children's transition to primary school Year 1. 520 children aged 4.5 to 6 years will be recruited and it is anticipated that 360 children will be retained to the 1 year follow-up. There will be equal numbers of boys and girls.
Discussion
If this program is found to improve the child's motor and psychosocial skills, this will assist in the child's transition into the first year of school. As a result of these changes, it is anticipated that children will have greater enjoyment participating in physical activities which will further promote long term physical and mental health.
Trial registration
This trial is registered in the Australian and New Zealand Clinical trials Registry (ACTRN12609000869279).
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-78
PMCID: PMC2989953  PMID: 21050483
20.  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
21.  Childhood and adolescent predictors of leisure time physical activity during the transition from adolescence to adulthood: a population based cohort study 
Background
Few studies have investigated factors that influence physical activity behavior during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. This study explores the associations of sociodemographic, behavioral, sociocultural, attitudinal and physical factors measured in childhood and adolescence with physical activity behavior during the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Methods
Childhood and adolescent data (at ages 7-15 years) were collected as part of the 1985 Australian Health and Fitness Survey and subdivided into sociodemographics (socioeconomic status, parental education), behavioral (smoking, alcohol, sports diversity, outside school sports), sociocultural (active father, active mother, any older siblings, any younger siblings, language spoken at home), attitudinal (sports/recreational competency, self-rated health, enjoyment physical education/physical activity, not enjoying school sports) and physical (BMI, time taken to run 1.6 km, long jump) factors. Physical activity between the ages 15 and 29 years was reported retrospectively using the Historical Leisure Activity Questionnaire at follow-up in 2004-2006 by 2,048 participants in the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health Study (CDAH). Australia's physical activity recommendations for children and adults were used to categorize participants as persistently active, variably active or persistently inactive during the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Results
For females, perceived sports competency in childhood and adolescence was significantly associated with being persistently active (RR = 1.88, 95% CI = 1.39, 2.55). Smoking (RR = 0.31 CI = 0.12, 0.82) and having younger siblings (RR = 0.69 CI = 0.52, 0.93) were inversely associated with being persistently active after taking physical and attitudinal factors into account. For males, playing sport outside school (RR = 1.47 CI = 1.05, 2.08), having active fathers (RR = 1.25 CI = 1.01, 1.54) and not enjoying school sport (RR = 4.07 CI = 2.31, 7.17) were associated with being persistently active into adulthood. Time taken to complete the 1.6 km run was inversely associated with being persistently active into adulthood (RR = 0.85 CI = 0.78, 0.93) after adjusting for recreational competency.
Conclusions
Perceived sports competency (females) and cardiorespiratory fitness, playing sport outside school and having active fathers (males) in childhood and adolescence were positively associated with being persistently active during the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-54
PMCID: PMC3129289  PMID: 21631921
22.  Utility of Accelerometers to Measure Physical Activity in Children Attending an Obesity Treatment Intervention 
Journal of Obesity  2010;2011:398918.
Objectives. To investigate the use of accelerometers to monitor change in physical activity in a childhood obesity treatment intervention. Methods. 28 children aged 7–13 taking part in “Families for Health” were asked to wear an accelerometer (Actigraph) for 7-days, and complete an accompanying activity diary, at baseline, 3-months and 9-months. Interviews with 12 parents asked about research measurements. Results. Over 90% of children provided 4 days of accelerometer data, and around half of children provided 7 days. Adequately completed diaries were collected from 60% of children. Children partake in a wide range of physical activity which uniaxial monitors may undermonitor (cycling, nonmotorised scootering) or overmonitor (trampolining). Two different cutoffs (4 METS or 3200 counts·min−1) for minutes spent in moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) yielded very different results, although reached the same conclusion regarding a lack of change in MVPA after the intervention. Some children were unwilling to wear accelerometers at school and during sport because they felt they put them at risk of stigma and bullying. Conclusion. Accelerometers are acceptable to a majority of children, although their use at school is problematic for some, but they may underestimate children's physical activity.
doi:10.1155/2011/398918
PMCID: PMC2952817  PMID: 20953356
23.  Direct and indirect associations between the family physical activity environment and sports participation among 10–12 year-old European children: testing the EnRG framework in the ENERGY project 
Background
Sport participation makes an important contribution to children’s overall physical activity. Understanding influences on sports participation is important and the family environment is considered key, however few studies have explored the mechanisms by which the family environment influences children’s sport participation. The purpose of this study was to examine whether attitude, perceived behavioural control, health belief and enjoyment mediate associations between the family environment and 10–12 year-old children’s sports participation.
Methods
Children aged 10–12 years ( = 7234) and one of their parents (n = 6002) were recruited from 175 schools in seven European countries in 2010. Children self-reported their weekly duration of sports participation, physical activity equipment items at home and the four potential mediator variables. Parents responded to items on financial, logistic and emotional support, reinforcement, modelling and co-participation in physical activity. Cross-sectional single and multiple mediation analyses were performed for 4952 children with complete data using multi-level regression analyses.
Results
Availability of equipment (OR = 1.16), financial (OR = 1.53), logistic (OR = 1.47) and emotional (OR = 1.51) support, and parental modelling (OR = 1.07) were positively associated with participation in ≥ 30mins/wk of sport. Attitude, beliefs, perceived behavioural control and enjoyment mediated and explained between 21-34% of these associations. Perceived behavioural control contributed the most to the mediated effect for each aspect of the family environment.
Conclusions
Both direct (unmediated) and indirect (mediated) associations were found between most family environment variables and children’s sports participation. Thus, family-based physical activity interventions that focus on enhancing the family environment to support children’s sport participation are warranted.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-15
PMCID: PMC3621808  PMID: 23374374
Sport; Physical activity; Children; Family; Home; Determinants; Mediation; Cognitions
24.  Hand Sanitiser Provision for Reducing Illness Absences in Primary School Children: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(8):e1001700.
In a cluster randomized trial, Patricia Priest and colleagues find that providing hand sanitizer along with hand hygiene education in primary school classrooms, compared with hand hygiene alone, does not reduce school absences.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The potential for transmission of infectious diseases offered by the school environment are likely to be an important contributor to the rates of infectious disease experienced by children. This study aimed to test whether the addition of hand sanitiser in primary school classrooms compared with usual hand hygiene would reduce illness absences in primary school children in New Zealand.
Methods and Findings
This parallel-group cluster randomised trial took place in 68 primary schools, where schools were allocated using restricted randomisation (1∶1 ratio) to the intervention or control group. All children (aged 5 to 11 y) in attendance at participating schools received an in-class hand hygiene education session. Schools in the intervention group were provided with alcohol-based hand sanitiser dispensers in classrooms for the winter school terms (27 April to 25 September 2009). Control schools received only the hand hygiene education session. The primary outcome was the number of absence episodes due to any illness among 2,443 follow-up children whose caregivers were telephoned after each absence from school. Secondary outcomes measured among follow-up children were the number of absence episodes due to specific illness (respiratory or gastrointestinal), length of illness and illness absence episodes, and number of episodes where at least one other member of the household became ill subsequently (child or adult). We also examined whether provision of sanitiser was associated with experience of a skin reaction. The number of absences for any reason and the length of the absence episode were measured in all primary school children enrolled at the schools. Children, school administrative staff, and the school liaison research assistants were not blind to group allocation. Outcome assessors of follow-up children were blind to group allocation. Of the 1,301 and 1,142 follow-up children in the hand sanitiser and control groups, respectively, the rate of absence episodes due to illness per 100 child-days was similar (1.21 and 1.16, respectively, incidence rate ratio 1.06, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.18). The provision of an alcohol-based hand sanitiser dispenser in classrooms was not effective in reducing rates of absence episodes due to respiratory or gastrointestinal illness, the length of illness or illness absence episodes, or the rate of subsequent infection for other members of the household in these children. The percentage of children experiencing a skin reaction was similar (10.4% hand sanitiser versus 10.3% control, risk ratio 1.01, 95% CI 0.78 to 1.30). The rate or length of absence episodes for any reason measured for all children also did not differ between groups. Limitations of the study include that the study was conducted during an influenza pandemic, with associated public health messaging about hand hygiene, which may have increased hand hygiene among all children and thereby reduced any additional effectiveness of sanitiser provision. We did not quite achieve the planned sample size of 1,350 follow-up children per group, although we still obtained precise estimates of the intervention effects. Also, it is possible that follow-up children were healthier than non-participating eligible children, with therefore less to gain from improved hand hygiene. However, lack of effectiveness of hand sanitiser provision on the rate of absences among all children suggests that this may not be the explanation.
Conclusions
The provision of hand sanitiser in addition to usual hand hygiene in primary schools in New Zealand did not prevent disease of severity sufficient to cause school absence.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12609000478213
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Throughout human history, infectious diseases have been major killers. In the 1300 s, for example, the black death killed a third of the European population. Other diseases such as smallpox and cholera have also devastated human populations. Now, though, a better understanding of the bacteria, viruses, and other microbes that cause infectious diseases and the availability of effective vaccines and antibiotics mean that, for the first time in human history, non-communicable (chronic) diseases such as heart attacks and strokes are killing and disabling more people around the world than infectious diseases. But this does not mean that we can be complacent about infectious diseases. The control of infectious diseases remains important, even in high-income countries, because of the contribution of infectious diseases to ill-health and because we need to manage the risk of epidemics and pandemics (disease outbreaks that affect a large proportion of the population of a country or the world, respectively) of influenza and other diseases.
Why Was This Study Done?
The control of infectious disease transmission in children is a particularly important component of disease control because children tend to have high rates of infectious disease and to have more physical contact with peers and with adults than other age groups, particularly in the school environment. It might be possible, therefore, to reduce the occurrence of many infectious respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases in communities by interrupting the transmission of infectious diseases between children at school, but how can this be achieved? In health care settings, good hand hygiene is a key component of infectious disease control, so, here, the researchers undertake a cluster randomized trial among primary school children in New Zealand to investigate whether the promotion of extra hand cleaning through the provision of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in classrooms can reduce illness absences among school children compared with normal hand hygiene (washing with soap and water, mainly in school bathrooms). A cluster randomized trial compares the outcomes of groups of participants (in this case, schools) chosen randomly to receive different interventions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned 68 city primary schools to the intervention or control group. All the children (aged 5–11 years) attending the participating schools received a thirty-minute in-class hand hygiene education session. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers were installed in the classrooms of the intervention schools during the winter term, and the children were asked to use the dispensers after coughing or sneezing and on the way out of the classroom for morning break and lunch. The researchers report that the trial's primary outcome—the rate of absence episodes per 100 child-days due to any illness among “follow-up” children, individuals whose caregivers agreed to be asked about the reason for any absence—was similar in the intervention and control groups. Moreover, among the follow-up children, the provision of hand sanitizer did not reduce the number of absences due to a specific illness (respiratory or gastrointestinal), the length of illness and length of absence from school, or the number of episodes in which at least one other family member became ill. Finally, the number of absences for any reason, and length of absence episodes, in all the children enrolled at the participating schools did not differ between the intervention and control groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the provision of hand sanitizer in addition to usual hand hygiene in primary schools in New Zealand did not prevent any infectious diseases severe enough to warrant school absence. Because the trial was undertaken during an influenza epidemic, influenza-related public health messages about good hand hygiene may have increased hand hygiene among all the children in the study and lessened the intervention's effectiveness. Other study limitations—including that only a third of caregivers agreed to be contacted about their child's absences, and these may have been caregivers who had already taught their children good hand hygiene—may also affect the accuracy of these findings and their generalizability to other high-income countries. However, these findings suggest that, in high-income countries where clean water for hand washing is readily available, putting resources into extra hand hygiene by providing hand sanitizer in classrooms may not be an effective way to break the child-to-child transmission of infectious diseases.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001700.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about hand-washing, when and how to wash your hands and use sanitizer, and hand-washing as a family activity; it also provides information about the importance of hand hygiene in health care settings
Public Health England provides information about hand-washing; its webpage about hand-washing in primary schools contains links to lesson plans about hand-washing for children aged 5–7 years and to e-Bug, a web-based student resource about infectious diseases and their prevention for children aged 7–14 years
Kidshealth, a US-based not-for-profit organization, also provides information about the importance of hand-washing for parents, kids, and teens (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001700
PMCID: PMC4130492  PMID: 25117155
25.  Pregnancy Weight Gain and Childhood Body Weight: A Within-Family Comparison 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(10):e1001521.
David Ludwig and colleagues examine the within-family relationship between pregnancy weight gain and the offspring's childhood weight gain, thereby reducing the influence of genes and environment.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Excessive pregnancy weight gain is associated with obesity in the offspring, but this relationship may be confounded by genetic and other shared influences. We aimed to examine the association of pregnancy weight gain with body mass index (BMI) in the offspring, using a within-family design to minimize confounding.
Methods and Findings
In this population-based cohort study, we matched records of all live births in Arkansas with state-mandated data on childhood BMI collected in public schools (from August 18, 2003 to June 2, 2011). The cohort included 42,133 women who had more than one singleton pregnancy and their 91,045 offspring. We examined how differences in weight gain that occurred during two or more pregnancies for each woman predicted her children's BMI and odds ratio (OR) of being overweight or obese (BMI≥85th percentile) at a mean age of 11.9 years, using a within-family design. For every additional kg of pregnancy weight gain, childhood BMI increased by 0.0220 (95% CI 0.0134–0.0306, p<0.0001) and the OR of overweight/obesity increased by 1.007 (CI 1.003–1.012, p = 0.0008). Variations in pregnancy weight gain accounted for a 0.43 kg/m2 difference in childhood BMI. After adjustment for birth weight, the association of pregnancy weight gain with childhood BMI was attenuated but remained statistically significant (0.0143 kg/m2 per kg of pregnancy weight gain, CI 0.0057–0.0229, p = 0.0007).
Conclusions
High pregnancy weight gain is associated with increased body weight of the offspring in childhood, and this effect is only partially mediated through higher birth weight. Translation of these findings to public health obesity prevention requires additional study.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Childhood obesity has become a worldwide epidemic. For example, in the United States, the number of obese children has more than doubled in the past 30 years. 7% of American children aged 6–11 years were obese in 1980, compared to nearly 18% in 2010. Because of the rising levels of obesity, the current generation of children may have a shorter life span than their parents for the first time in 200 years.
Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health. The initial problems are usually psychological. Obese children often experience discrimination, leading to low self-esteem and depression. Their physical health also suffers. They are more likely to be at risk of cardiovascular disease from high cholesterol and high blood pressure. They may also develop pre-diabetes or diabetes type II. In the long-term, obese children tend to become obese adults, putting them at risk of premature death from stroke, heart disease, or cancer.
There are many factors that lead to childhood obesity and they often act in combination. A major risk factor, especially for younger children, is having at least one obese parent. The challenge lies in unravelling the complex links between the genetic and environmental factors that are likely to be involved.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several studies have shown that a child's weight is influenced by his/her mother's weight before pregnancy and her weight gain during pregnancy. An obese mother, or a mother who puts on more pregnancy weight than average, is more likely to have an obese child.
One explanation for the effects of pregnancy weight gain is that the mother's overeating directly affects the baby's development. It may change the baby's brain and metabolism in such a way as to increase the child's long-term risk of obesity. Animal studies have confirmed that the offspring of overfed rats show these kinds of physiological changes. However, another possible explanation is that mother and baby share a similar genetic make-up and environment so that a child becomes obese from inheriting genetic risk factors, and growing up in a household where being overweight is the norm.
The studies in humans that have been carried out to date have not been able to distinguish between these explanations. Some have given conflicting results. The aim of this study was therefore to look for evidence of links between pregnancy weight gain and children's weight, using an approach that would separate the impact of genetic and environmental factors from a direct effect on the developing baby.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers examined data from the population of the US state of Arkansas recorded between 2003 and 2011. They looked at the health records of over 42,000 women who had given birth to more than one child during this period. This gave them information about how much weight the women had gained during each of their pregnancies. The researchers also looked at the school records of the children, over 91,000 in total, which included the children's body mass index (BMI, which factors in both height and weight). They analyzed the data to see if there was a link between the mothers' pregnancy weight gain and the child's BMI at around 12 years of age. Most importantly, they looked at these links within families, comparing children born to the same mother. The rationale for this approach was that these children would share a similar genetic make-up and would have grown up in similar environments. By taking genetics and environment into account in this manner, any remaining evidence of an impact of pregnancy weight gain on the children's BMI would have to be explained by other factors.
The results showed that the amount of weight each mother gained in pregnancy predicted her children's BMI and the likelihood of her children being overweight or obese. For every additional kg the mother gained during pregnancy, the children's BMI increased by 0.022. The children of mothers who put on the most weight had a BMI that was on average 0.43 higher than the children whose mothers had put on the least weight.
The study leaves some questions unanswered, including whether the mother's weight before pregnancy makes a difference to their children's BMI. The researchers were not able to obtain these measurements, nor the weight of the fathers. There may have also been other factors that weren't measured that might explain the links that were found.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study shows that mothers who gain excessive weight during pregnancy increase the risk of their child becoming obese. This appears to be partly due to a direct effect on the developing baby.
These results represent a significant public health concern, even though the impact on an individual basis is relatively small. They could contribute to several hundred thousand cases of childhood obesity worldwide. Importantly, they also suggest that some cases could be prevented by measures to limit excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Such an approach could prove effective, as most mothers will not want to damage their child's health, and might therefore be highly motivated to change their behavior. However, because inadequate weight gain during pregnancy can also adversely affect the developing fetus, it will be essential for women to receive clear information about what constitutes optimal weight gain during pregnancy.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001521.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide Childhood Obesity Facts
The UK National Health Service article “How much weight will I put on during my pregnancy?” provides information on pregnancy and weight gain and links to related resources
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001521
PMCID: PMC3794857  PMID: 24130460

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