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Objective - Accelerometer

793. Effectiveness of Community-Based Minigrants to Increase Physical Activity and Decrease Sedentary Time in Youth

Research Article
Justin B Moore, Jason Brinkley, Sara F Morris, Theresa M Oniffrey, Mary Bea Kolbe
September 2016

Commentary by Rona Macniven, GlobalPANet Executive, The University of Sydney, Australia

Community-based programs are important ways to increase physical activity, particularly among individuals who are hard to reach. Assessing the impact of such programs is important to determine the appropriateness of program funding. This study examined the effectiveness of targeted grant funding for youth physical activity program implementation in the government funded North Carolina Eat Smart, Move More Community Grants program. 

Twenty community projects which specifically aimed to implement programs to increase moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and/or decreasing sedentary time in youth were given mini-grants, randomly allocated across two time points in year 1 (2010-2011) or year 2 (2011-2012). The 20 programs implemented multilevel interventions in a variety of settings, including schools, according to the Social-Ecological Model. Each program measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour of at least 40 children in grades 4 to 8 through accelerometers, totalling 2138 participants across three waves who also provided demographic information such as their gender, age and ethnicity. 

There were no differences in MVPA among the children in years 1 and 2 at the time when only year 1 was receiving funding which was perhaps surprising. Yet children in both groups significantly increased their MVPA by 2.32 minutes per day on average between baseline and follow-up. Only 2% of children achieved at least an hour a day of MVPA. Fourth and fifth grade students increased their physical activity the most and while there were no overall significant changes in sedentary behaviour, sixth, seventh and eighth grade children became more sedentary.  Generally, boys were more active than girls and white children more active than non-white children.

These findings revealed that a small grant scheme targeted at increasing MVPA among children achieved overall modest increases across 20 state programs. Resourcing of such programs for inactive groups of children may result in substantial public health benefits at scale. Future cost-benefit analyses of grant funding would determine value in preventive health. 

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