OBJECTIVE: The aims of this systematic review and meta-analysis are (i) to determine the impact of school-based interventions on objectively measured physical activity among adolescents and (ii) to examine accelerometer methods and decision rule reporting in previous interventions.
METHODS: A systematic search was performed to identify randomized controlled trials targeting adolescents (age: =10 years), conducted in the school setting, and reporting objectively measured physical activity. Random effects meta-analyses were conducted to determine the pooled effects of previous interventions on total and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Potential moderators of intervention effects were also explored.
RESULTS: Thirteen articles met the inclusion criteria, and twelve were included in the meta-analysis. The pooled effects were small and non-significant for both total physical activity (standardized mean difference = 0.02 [95% confidence interval = -0.13 to 0.18]) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (standardized mean difference = 0.24 [95% confidence interval = -0.08 to 0.56]). Sample age and accelerometer compliance were significant moderators for total physical activity, with a younger sample and higher compliance associated with larger effects.
CONCLUSION: Previous school-based physical activity interventions targeting adolescents have been largely unsuccessful, particularly for older adolescents. There is a need for more high-quality research using objective monitoring in this population. Future interventions should comply with best-practice recommendations regarding physical activity monitoring protocols.