After the RCT: how to objectively measure effectiveness? (#213)
Aim: Project Energize, a nutrition and physical activity programme to reduce childhood obesity, was trialled between 2004 and 2006. The Energize programme has continued to be funded by the Waikato District Health Board and reaches all 243 primary schools in the region (42000 children). We aimed to test the utility of measures of fitness measures and activity in class time in two new areas and compare with 2011 Waikato children.
In the 2011 evaluation of the Energize programme time to run 550 m was measured in 5059 children aged 6 to 12 years. Gender-specific time_to_run 550m (T550m) charts were created using smoothed reference centile curves. An Excel™ based tool to assess centile and z score of child or class was developed. Between February and May 2013 baseline T550m of 4188 children in the two roll-out clusters was audited. Concurrently time in class spent in moderate to vigorous physical activities was reported by class teachers.
The two clusters differed in ethnic profile; 25% vs 85% Maori and cluster 2 schools were more deprived. In cluster 1 T550m was measured for 2205/2446 (90%) and in cluster 2 1152/1742 (66%) children. In both clusters median T550m was longer than the median 2011Waikato children (P<0.005). Teachers from cluster 1 reported less class time in physical activity each day than cluster 2 (23 vs 34 minutes).
Time to run 550 m is a feasible, practical and socially and ethically acceptable measurement to evaluate change over time and to inform ways to tailor the intervention. Monitoring of effective translation of research into sustainable public health interventions can use measures such as T550m.