Painting Lines on the Playground. Easiest obesity intervention ever.

by Travis Saunders Obesity Panacea

In most developed nations, kids get far less physical activity than they did just a few generations ago. Given the strong links between physical inactivity and health risk (and given that we're now seeing "adult" diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes in children and teenagers), this has become a very real public health concern. Unfortunately, when it comes to increasing childhood physical activity levels, people often want to reinvent the wheel. For example, many people are enthralled with the Nintendo Wii as a means of increasing childhood physical activity - even though it is expensive, and the evidence supporting it is weak at best. At the same time, evidence continues to accumulate in support of simple, inexpensive interventions for increasing childhood physical activity. Today I'd like to briefly look at one of the simplest possible ways of increasing childhood physical activity levels - painting lines on a schoolyard playground.

The study

In a 2005 study from Preventive Medicine, Dr Gareth Sutton and Elaine Mullan examined the levels of objectively measured moderate and vigorous physical activity in a group of Welsh school children before and after their playgrounds

"were painted in bright fluorescent colors that varied according to school preference, although castles, dragons, clock faces, mazes, fun trails, dens, hopscotch, letter squares, snakes and ladders, and various animals were consistently popular in early primary schools. Late primary schools included markings for netball, football, and short tennis, and targets for games related skills."

What happened?
Not surprisingly, both moderate and vigorous physical activity levels increased by roughly 40% in the intervention schools, while activity levels slightly decreased in the control schools. The graph below illustrates the dramatic increase in the percentage of recess which was spent being moderately or vigorously physically as a result of the intervention.

STRATTON, G., & MULLAN, E. (2005). The effect of multicolor playground markings on children's physical activity level during recess Preventive Medicine, 41 (5-6), 828-833 DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2005.07.009

More on Painting lines on the playground........

Video of painting the playground.