Methods: In disadvantaged neighborhoods of Reus (Spain), two high schools were randomly assigned to the intervention (n = 169 adolescents, 13- to 16-year old) and two were assigned to the control group (n = 223 adolescents, 13- to 16-year old). The intervention, which lasted 12 months and spanned two academic years (2013–2015), used social marketing (SM) to improve healthy choices. The peer-led strategy involved 5 adolescents, who designed and implemented 10 activities as challenges for their 169 school-aged peers. The control group received no intervention. To assess self-reported lifestyles in both groups, the Health Behavior in School-aged Children survey was used at baseline and end of study.
Results: After 12 months, the weekly PA improved in the intervention group vs. the control one (p = 0.047). When male and female groups were examined separately, the improvement in PA remained with a borderline significance only in the male group (p = 0.050).
Conclusions: A school-based, peer-led SM intervention designed and implemented by adolescents attending high schools in low-income neighborhoods promoted an increase in PA, particularly in male adolescents 13 to 16 years of age. No effect on fruit or vegetable consumption or screen time was observed.
Clinical Trial Registration number: NCT02157402.
This project benefited from valuable collaborations with the National Children's Bureau (the United Kingdom), Companhia de Ideias (Portugal), and Komunikujeme (Czech Republic). The Spanish research project was supported by the Central Market of Reus, Spain (Mercat Central de Reus), which provided fresh food for the intervention, and the Municipality of Reus, Spain [Ajuntament de Reus, Spain]. We thank the teachers, parents, and students of the Reus high schools for their enthusiastic participation in this study.
This research project was funded by the European Commission (European Directorate General HEALTH-2012 12 19). This funder did not play a role in the Spanish study design, data collection, study management, data analysis, data interpretation, article writing, or decision to submit the report for publication.