The Fueling Learning Through Exercise Study Cluster RCT: Impact on Children's Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity

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Date of Original Version



Introduction: Most children do not meet the recommendations for school-time and daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, with significant demographic disparities and declines over the elementary school years. Investigators examined the impact of Fueling Learning through Exercise study school-based physical activity programs on school-time and total daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity among lower-income school children. Design, Participants, and Intervention: Urban elementary schools (N=18) were cluster randomized to 100 Mile Club, Just Move, or control. Data collection and analyses occurred from 2015 to 2019 among third- and fourth-grade school children (N=1,008) across 2 academic years. Main outcome measures: Student's moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was measured by 7-day accelerometry (Actigraph GT3X+) at baseline (before intervention), midpoint (6 months), and endpoint (18 months). Mixed-effects linear regression models examined program impact on school-time and daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, adjusting for clustering, demographics, weight status, free/reduced-price lunch eligibility, school physical activity environment, wear time, and weather. Program reach by sex, weight status, race/ethnicity, and baseline activity levels was explored. Results: Of the 979 participants analyzed (aged 8.7 [SD=0.7] years, 44% male, 60% non-White, 40% overweight/obese, 55% eligible for free/reduced-price lunch), 8.4% (18.2 [SD=7.9] minutes per day) and 19.8% (45.6 [SD=19.4] minutes per day) fulfilled the 30-minute school-time and 60-minute daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity recommendations at baseline, respectively. Overall, daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity decreased from baseline to 18 months (p<0.001, −5.3 minutes, 95% CI= −8.2, −2.4) with no effect of programming. However, for school-time moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, intervention schools maintained school-time moderate-to-vigorous physical activity across the 2 academic years, whereas school-time moderate-to-vigorous physical activity decreased in control schools (p=0.004, −2.3 minutes, 95% CI= −4.3, −0.4). Program reach on school-time moderate-to-vigorous physical activity appeared equitable by sex and weight status but was different by race/ethnicity (p<0.001). Conclusions: Two different school-based physical activity programs were effective in preventing the decline in school-time moderate-to-vigorous physical activity that is typical across the elementary years, with similar reach by sex and weight status. Multiple opportunities for physical activity during school are needed to promote meeting school-time moderate-to-vigorous physical activity recommendations among diverse children. Trial registration: This study is registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov NCT02810834.

Publication Title

American Journal of Preventive Medicine