Objective: To examine the short term effects of a health education programme on Greek primary schoolchildren
Methods: The school based intervention programme was applied to 29 children in the 6th grade of the 2nd Primary School of Agios Stefanos (∼12 000 inhabitants); 49 pupils from the 1st Primary School constituted the control group. To assess the effectiveness of the intervention, attitude and behavioural variables were measured before and after the intervention.
Results: After adjustment for initial differences in the assessed variables, pupils who took part in the intervention had more positive attitudes towards physical activity than the control group and scored significantly more highly on their intention to participate in physical activity. Moreover, pupils in the intervention group reported more hours/week spent in organised physical activities than pupils in the control group (mean (SD) 3.54 (0.32) v 2.54 (0.26), p<0.020). Finally, a higher proportion of pupils in the intervention classes matched the recommendations of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily (77.4% v 55.1%, p<0.043).
Conclusions: Within the limitations of the study, the data show that school health education programmes have the potential to slow the age related decline in physical activity and help pupils establish lifelong, healthy physical activity patterns. Promoting healthy habits and physical activity behaviours during childhood may prevent some of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the Greek population, and also decrease direct healthcare costs and improve quality of life.
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Competing interests: none declared
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