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Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

A school-based physical activity program to improve health and fitness in children aged 6–13 years ("Kinder-Sportstudie KISS"): study design of a randomized controlled trial [ISRCTN15360785]

Lukas Zahner14, Jardena J Puder2, Ralf Roth1, Marco Schmid1, Regula Guldimann1, Uwe Pühse1, Martin Knöpfli1, Charlotte Braun-Fahrländer3, Bernard Marti4 and Susi Kriemler1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Basel, Brüglingen 33, 4052 Basel, Switzerland

2 Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Clinical Nutrition, University Hospital of Basel, 4031 Basel, Switzerland

3 Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Basel, Steinengraben 49, 4051 Basel, Switzerland

4 Swiss Federal Office of Sports, 2532 Magglingen, Switzerland

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:147  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-147

Published: 6 June 2006

Abstract

Background

Childhood obesity is the result of a long lasting imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. A major contributing factor is physical inactivity which is closely linked to bone health, cardiovascular disease risk, fitness and psychological factors. The school seems to provide an excellent setting to enhance levels of physical activity (PA). However, there is insufficient data from previous school-based intervention trials on how to enhance overall PA. It is also unknown whether an intervention aimed at increasing PA is effective in improving the children's health. The purpose of this paper is to outline the design of a school-based randomized, controlled trial (RCT) aiming to increase overall PA and to improve fitness and health in 6- to 13-year-old children.

Methods/Design

15 schools were randomized to the intervention (n = 9) or the control (n = 6) group, stratified by geographic region (urban vs. rural) and by age (1st and 5th grade). Participation was given for all children in the intervention group since in this group the intervention was part of the normal school curriculum. The intervention during one academic year consisted of: 1. two additional physical education classes per week given by trained physical education teachers adding up to a total of five PA classes per week, 2. short PA breaks (2–5 min each) during academic lessons, 3. PA home work, and 4. adaptation of recreational areas around the school. All children underwent anthropometric measurements, blood pressure assessment, fitness testing, measurement of PA and they filled out questionnaires. At least 70% of all children agreed to blood sampling and measurements of body composition and bone mineral measurements by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. The primary endpoints of the study after one year were an increase in total PA by accelerometry, an increase in aerobic fitness measured by the 20 m shuttle run, a decrease in percent body fat derived from skinfold measurements and an increase in quality of life as assessed by the child health questionnaire in the intervention group compared to the control group. Secondary outcomes were overall fitness, differences in body composition including body fat distribution, cardiovascular risk factors, psychosocial health, bone mineral content and density of femur, lumbar spine and total body and food intake.

Discussion

Our preliminary data suggest that the children were representative of Swiss children with respect to sex, socio-demographic status, and body mass index. Short-term results can be expected by the beginning of 2007. We hypothesized that our intervention will lead to an increase in PA, fitness and overall health. Based on our data, we aim to provide important information regarding the influence of such an intervention on these outcome measures in school-aged children and to provide nationwide guidelines to improve PA in children.