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Effect of a 20-week physical activity intervention on selective attention and academic performance in children living in disadvantaged neighborhoods : a cluster randomized control trial

Gall, Stefanie and Adams, Larissa and Joubert, Nandi and Ludyga, Sebastian and Müller, Ivan and Nqweniso, Siphesihle and Pühse, Uwe and du Randt, Rosa and Seelig, Harald and Smith, Danielle and Steinmann, Peter and Utzinger, Jürg and Walter, Cheryl and Gerber, Markus. (2018) Effect of a 20-week physical activity intervention on selective attention and academic performance in children living in disadvantaged neighborhoods : a cluster randomized control trial. PLoS ONE, 13 (11). e0206908.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES:
To evaluate the effect of a 20-week school-based physical activity intervention program on academic performance and selective attention among disadvantaged South African primary school children.
DESIGN:
Cluster randomized control trial.
METHODS:
The study cohort included 663 children from eight primary schools, aged 8-13 years. Data assessment took place between February 2015 and May 2016 following the implementation of a 20-week school-based physical activity program. The d2 test was employed to assess selective attention, while the averaged end-of-year school results (math, life skills, home language, and additional language) were used as an indicator of academic performance. Physical fitness was assessed using the 20-m shuttle run test (VO2 max) and grip strength tests. We controlled for cluster effects, baseline scores in selective attention or academic performance, and potential confounders, such as children's age, gender, socioeconomic status, self-reported physical activity (as determined by a pre-tested questionnaire), body mass index, hemoglobin (as a proxy for anemia, as measured by blood sampling), and soil-transmitted helminth infections (as assessed by the Kato-Katz technique).
RESULTS:
Our multivariate analysis suggested that the physical activity intervention had a positive effect on academic performance (p = 0.032), while no effect was found on selective attention (concentration performance; p = 0.469; error percentage; p = 0.237). After controlling for potential confounders, the physical activity condition contributed to the maintenance of academic performance, whereas a decrease was observed in learners in the control condition. Furthermore, physically active and fit children tend to have better concentration performance (CP) than their less fit peers (self-reported activity; p<0.016, grip strength; p<0.009, VO2 max p>0.021).
CONCLUSION:
A 20-week physical activity intervention contributes to the maintenance of academic performance among socioeconomically deprived school children in South Africa. School administrators should ensure that their school staff implements physical activity lessons, which are a compulsory component of the school by the curriculum.
Faculties and Departments:09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) > Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (EPH) > Eco System Health Sciences > Health Impact Assessment (Utzinger)
09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) > Swiss Centre for International Health > Health Systems Support (Prytherch)
03 Faculty of Medicine
UniBasel Contributors:Steinmann, Peter and Utzinger, Jürg and Müller, Iwan Martin and Seelig, Harald
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Public Library of Science
e-ISSN:1932-6203
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:18 Feb 2019 09:54
Deposited On:22 Nov 2018 13:56

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