Program

Jan 16, 2013

Lifestyle
Education for Activity Program (LEAP)

OVERVIEW

The Lifestyle Education for Activity Program (LEAP) is a
school-based intervention designed to change both instructional practices and
the school environment to increase support for physical activity among
girls. In a random assignment study involving 24 schools, schools were
assigned to an intervention group that implemented LEAP or to a control group
that persisted in implementing their existing physical education program.
At follow-up, girls attending LEAP schools were significantly more likely to
report engaging in regular vigorous physical activity than were girl attending
control schools. LEAP did not serve to lower the percentage of overweight
girls in intervention schools, however.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population:female high school students in ninth
grade.

LEAP sought to influence female high school students through
and instructional approach and an environmental approach.

The instructional channel involved changes in the content
and delivery of PE and health education. LEAP PE
classes were designed to enhance students’ enjoyment of physical activity and
to teach the skills necessary to adopt and maintain an active lifestyle.
Classes were set up so that girls were involved in moderate-to-vigorous
physical activity for at least 50% of class time. Activities such as
aerobic, dance, and self-defense were offered in addition to competitive sports
and other traditional PE activities. Health education classes also
focused on the importance of active lifestyle.

The environmental channel involved altering the school
environment to support physical activity. Activities included role
modeling by school staff, promotion of physical activity by the school nurse,
and family- and community-based activities.

All LEAP classes and activities were organized by a LEAP
team within each school. LEAP teams consisted of school personnel who
were supported by university-based LEAP project staff. Project staff
provided workshops, trainings, and consultations, but did not impose a formal
LEAP curriculum upon any schools. Instead, schools were encouraged to
incorporate elements of LEAP into their existing curricula and programs.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Pate, R. R., Ward, D. S., Saunders, R. P., Felton, G.,
Dishman, R. K., & Dowda, M. (2005). Promotion of physical activity among
high-school girls: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Public
Health, 95
(9), 1582-1587.

Evaluated population:2,744 girls from 24 high
schools in South Carolina
served as the study sample for this investigation. 49% of subjects were
African American; 47% were white; and 4% were of other ethnicity.

Approach: 24 study schools were paired and then
randomly assigned, within pairs, to either the control group or the treatment
group. Schools assigned to the control group continued to implement their
existing physical education program. Schools assigned to the treatment
group implemented LEAP.

Girls who would be attending the 24 study schools as 9th
graders were approached as 8th graders and were encouraged to
participate in the study. Those students who were interested (2,744 of
8,155 total female students) completed baseline measures during the spring of
their 8th grade year. All students in LEAP schools were
exposed to the LEAP intervention as 9th graders, regardless of
whether they had volunteered to participate in the study.

Study subjects competed follow-up measures during the spring
of their 9th grade year. Follow-up measures included height,
weight, and three-day physical activity inventories.

Results:At follow-up, girls attending LEAP schools
were significantly more likely to report engaging in regular vigorous physical
activity than were girls attending control schools. Specifically, on
their three-day physical activity inventories in 9th grade, LEAP
girls were more likely than control girls to report having participated in one
or more 30-minute blocks of vigorous physical activity each day. LEAP did
not serve to lower the percentage of overweight girls in intervention schools,
however. Following the intervention, the percentage of girls who were
classified as overweight or at-risk for becoming overweight did not differ
significantly between intervention and control school.

Analyses took into account the fact that randomization
occurred at the group level.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Pate, R. R., Ward, D. S., Saunders, R. P., Felton, G.,
Dishman, R. K., & Dowda, M. (2005). Promotion of physical activity among
high-school girls: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Public
Health, 95
(9), 1582-1587.

Program categorized in this guide according to the
following:

Evaluated participant ages: 14

Evaluated participant grades: 9th

Program age ranges in the guide: Adolescence, Youth

Program components: School-Based

Measured outcomes: Physical health

KEYWORDS:Adolescence (12-17), School-based,
Adolescents (12-17), Nutrition, Overweight, Obese, Gender-specific (female
only), White or Caucasian, Black or African American.

Program information last updated on 1/12/09.

Subscribe to Child Trends

Short weekly updates of recent research on children and youth.