Effects of a School Based Intervention on Children’s Physical Activity and Healthy Eating: A Mixed-Methods Study
Dr Matluba Khan and Dr Ruth Bell of the IHE were co-aurthours on this Open Access narrative lierature review paper, published in the Open Access Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4320.
Combined diet and physical activity school-based interventions (rather than only diet or physical activity interventions) are more likely to help prevent children from becoming overweight in the long term. However, such interventions are less prevalent, and therefore, this pilot study aimed to assess the feasibility of a gardening intervention coupled with awareness about plant-based meals among 9−10 year old children in a London primary school.
We recruited 60 children from two Year 5 classes, one class participated as an intervention group, and results were compared against another class who acted as the control group. Children’s physical activity (PA) was measured using GENEActiv wrist-worn accelerometers. Their fruit and vegetable intake and attitudes to and preferences in eating fruits and vegetables were measured using a self-report questionnaire. Furthermore, three focus groups were held with children in the intervention group to understand the reasons behind any change as a result of the intervention. Results are inconclusive; however, they indicate some impact on reduction of sedentary behaviour, increase of moderate to vigorous PA, knowledge of nutrition and some level of acceptance in trying new vegetables. School-based interventions involving gardening show some promise to increase children’s PA and improve their attitudes to eating fruits and vegetables.
Keywords: garden; children; physical activity; health behaviour; Green Gym; accelerometry; mixed methods; quasi-experiment