Background: The worldwide increase in the rates of childhood overweight and physical inactivity requires successful prevention and intervention programs for children. The aim of the Active Living project is to increase physical activity and decrease sedentary behavior of Dutch primary school children by developing and implementing tailored, multicomponent interventions at and around schools.
Methods/design: In this project, school-centered interventions have been developed at 10 schools in the south of the Netherlands, using a combined top-down and bottom-up approach in which a research unit and a practice unit continuously interact. The interventions consist of a combination of physical and social interventions tailored to local needs of intervention schools. The process and short- and long-term effectiveness of the interventions will be evaluated using a quasi-experimental study design in which 10 intervention schools are matched with 10 control schools. Baseline and follow-up measurements (after 12 and 24 months) have been conducted in grades 6 and 7 and included accelerometry, GPS, and questionnaires. Primary outcome of the Active Living study is the change in physical activity levels, i.e. sedentary behavior (SB), light physical activity (LPA), moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and counts-per-minute (CPM). Multilevel regression analyses will be used to assess the effectiveness of isolated and combined physical and social interventions on children’s PA levels.
Discussion: The current intervention study is unique in its combined approach of physical and social environmental PA interventions both at school(yard)s as well as in the local neighborhood around the schools. The strength of the study lies in the quasi-experimental design including objective measurement techniques, i.e. accelerometry and GPS, combined with more subjective techniques, i.e. questionnaires, implementation logbooks, and neighborhood observations.