The effectiveness of interventions on sustained childhood physical activity: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled studies
Sims J., Scarborough P., Foster C.
© 2015 Sims et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background Increased physical activity (PA) has been associated with a reduction in non-communicable disease risk factors and outcomes. However, interventions to increase childhood PA typically produce small to negligible effects. Recent reviews are limited due to lack of post-intervention follow-up measurement. This review aimed to examine measured effects at least six months post-intervention. Methods and Findings We searched PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsychINFO, ScienceDirect, SportDiscus and Google Scholar between 1st January 1991 and 1st November 2014 for controlled studies reporting six-month post-intervention measurement for children aged 5 to 18 years. 14 studies met inclusion criteria; 12 reported moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) (n = 5790) and 10 reported total PA (TPA) (n = 4855). We calculated overall effect estimates and 95% CI's using random effects modelling with inverse variance weighting. Mean difference was calculated for MVPA, with standardised mean difference calculated to TPA due to measurement variation. Meta-regression assessed heterogeneity by continuous level variables. Negligible mean difference in MVPA existed in favour of the intervention group, amounting to 1.47 (95% CI -1.88, 4.82) mins/day compared to controls, while no difference was recorded on TPA. Sub-group analyses revealed males (2.65 mins/day: 95% CI 2.03, 3.27) reported higher levels of MVPA than females (-0.42 mins/day: 95% CI -7.77, 6.94), community settings (2.67 mins/day: 95% CI 2.05, 3.28) were more effective than school settings (1.70 mins/day: 95% CI -4.84, 8.25), and that treatment (4.47 mins/day: 95% CI -0.81, 9.76) demonstrated greater effects than population approaches (1.03 mins/day: 95% CI -2.54, 4.60). Meta-regression revealed no significant differences by factor on pooled effects. Significant heterogeneity existed between studies and potential for small study effects was present. Conclusions Improved PA levels subsequent to intervention were not maintained six month post-intervention. A potentially useful avenue of future research is to specifically explore community treatment of high risk individuals.