Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

A school-based intervention to reduce overweight and inactivity in children aged 6–12 years: study design of a randomized controlled trial

Wilma Jansen12*, Hein Raat1, Evelien Joosten-van Zwanenburg2, Ivo Reuvers3, Ron van Walsem3 and Johannes Brug14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2 Rotterdam Public Health Service and Environs, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

3 Municipal Sport and Recreation Department, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

4 EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:257  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-257

Published: 25 July 2008



Effective interventions to prevent overweight and obesity in children are urgently needed especially in inner-city neighbourhoods where prevalence of overweight and inactivity among primary school children is high. A school based intervention was developed aiming at the reduction of overweight and inactivity in these children by addressing both behavioural and environmental determinants.


The main components of the intervention (Lekker Fit!) are the re-establishment of a professional physical education teacher; three (instead of two) PE classes per week; additional sport and play activities outside school hours; fitness testing; classroom education on healthy nutrition, active living and healthy lifestyle choices; and the involvement of parents. The effectiveness of the intervention is evaluated through a cluster randomized controlled trial in 20 primary schools among grades 3 through 8 (6–12 year olds). Primary outcome measures are BMI, waist circumference and fitness. Secondary outcome measures are assessed in a subgroup of grade 6–8 pupils (9–12 year olds) through classroom questionnaires and constitute of nutrition and physical activity behaviours and behavioural determinants. Multilevel regression analyses are used to study differences in outcomes between children in the intervention schools and in control schools, taking clustering of children within schools into account.


Hypotheses are that the intervention results in a lower prevalence of children being overweight and an improved mean fitness score, in comparison with a control group where the intervention is not implemented. The results of our study will contribute to the discussion on the role of physical education and physical activity in the school curriculum.

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