Physical Activity Interventions in Schools for Improving Lifestyle in European Countries

Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health 26 Feb 2015 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1745017901511010077


Background : In the last decades, children’s and adolescents’ obesity and overweight have increased in European Countries. Unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyle have been recognized to determine such an epidemic. Schools represent an ideal setting to modify harmful behaviors, and physical activity could be regarded as a potential way to avoid the metabolic risks related to obesity. Methods : A systematic review of the literature was carried out to summarize the evidence of school-based interventions aimed to promote, enhance and implement physical activity in European schools. Only randomized controlled trials were included, carried out in Europe from January 2000 to April 2014, universally delivered and targeting pupils aged between 3 and 18 years old. Results : Forty-seven studies were retrieved based either on multicomponent interventions or solely physical activity programs. Most aimed to prevent obesity and cardiovascular risks among youths. While few studies showed a decrease in BMI, positive results were achieved on other outcomes, such as metabolic parameters and physical fitness. Conclusion : Physical activity in schools should be regarded as a simple, non-expensive and enjoyable way to reach all the children and adolescents with adequate doses of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

Keywords: European countries, obesity prevention, physical activity, school-based intervention.
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