Effects of Before-School Physical Activity on Obesity Prevention and Wellness

Posted by American Journal of Preventive Medicine on February 26, 2018

Obesity affects 12.7 million (17%) children and adolescents throughout the U.S. Substantial work is being directed at efforts towards childhood obesity prevention. As a modifiable lifestyle habit, physical activity is a potential target for these efforts.

Evidence supports the health benefits of physical activity. Children who are more physically active have lower body fat percentage as well as lower BMI. Higher levels of physical activity early in life are associated with future physical activity levels as well as lower risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes later in life. There is also growing evidence that physical activity has a positive impact on psychosocial well-being, cognitive outcomes, and academic performance, as well as mental health.

Despite these benefits, most children do not receive the recommended amount of physical activity. Parents cite time pressures, safety concerns, cost, and competition with screen time as challenges to supporting their children’s physical activity. As children spend the majority of their time in school, most of their physical activity occurs in this setting, however, schools overall do not promote physical activity. Barriers exist to school-based physical activity, including lack of available resources, concerns regarding burden on academic time, and perceived lack of knowledge to lead physical activity sessions. Interventions to increase physical activity in schools have shown mixed results, largely because of the overall heterogeneity in intervention design.

Build Our Kids Success (BOKS) is a before-school physical activity program present in more than 2,500 elementary and middle schools throughout the U.S. and internationally. The 60-minute, 12-week program includes a core curriculum delivered by trained volunteers. In a recent report in a single school, BOKS effectively decreased percentage of body fat, and increased aerobic performance in participants versus control students. The BOKS program is consistent with Huang and Glass’s systems-level framework to prevent obesity, and is rooted in the social contextual theory of behavior change. Previous research has found that before-school physical activity programs increase overall physical activity and improve lean body mass.

Read more: http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(18)30046-1/fulltext

Continue the conversation at the April PHENND K-16 meeting: https://phennd.org/update/save-the-date-k-16-partners-network-meeting-collaborative-approaches-to-improving-health-and-wellness-through-organized-sports-physicalhealth-education-and-after-school-programming/

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