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BMJ Open. 2012 May 14;2(3). pii: e000721. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000721. Print 2012.

Effect of a school-based peer education intervention on physical activity and sedentary behaviour in Chinese adolescents: a pilot study.

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  • 1Sydney School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.



To evaluate the effect on physical activity and sedentary behaviour of a pilot school-based peer education programme in urban Beijing, China.


4 junior high schools were matched by school size and randomised to intervention (n=346) and control group (n=336).


Trained peer leaders from grade 7 by research staff delivered weekly 40-min lessons to their classmates over four consecutive weeks. Students in control schools received no intervention.


A validated 7-day youth physical activity questionnaire was used to evaluate physical activity and sedentary behaviours at baseline (September 2010), 3 months (December 2010) and 7 months (May 2011). Generalised linear mixed models were applied to evaluate the effect.


There was a significant decrease in time in sedentary behaviour on weekdays, 20 min/day at 7 months (p=0.020) reported by students in the intervention schools compared with control schools. This reduction was mainly due to a reduction of 14 min/day in computer usage on weekdays (p=0.0009). There were no significant differences in time on other sedentary behaviours, including television and DVD, video game, extracurricular reading, writing, drawing and listening to music, passive commuting and sitting to talk. There was also no significant difference in time in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity between intervention and control group.


Peer education appears to be a promising intervention in reducing sedentary behaviours in adolescents in China. These results need confirmation in a larger study.


ACTRN12612000417886 at

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