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Am J Prev Med. 2013 Mar;44(3):e31-40. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.10.026.

Physical activity interventions in Latin America: expanding and classifying the evidence.

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Division of Public Health Sciences and Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.



Systematic reviews of public health interventions are useful for identifying effective strategies for informing policy and practice. The goals of this review were to (1) update a previous systematic review of physical activity interventions in Latin America which found that only school-based physical education had sufficient evidence to recommend widespread adoption; (2) assess the reporting of external validity elements; and (3) develop and apply an evidence typology for classifying interventions.


In 2010-2011, community-level, physical activity intervention studies from Latin America were identified, categorized, and screened based on the peer-reviewed literature or Brazilian theses published between 2006 and 2010. Articles meeting inclusion criteria were evaluated using U.S. Community Guide methods. External validity reporting was assessed among a subset of articles reviewed to date. An evidence rating typology was developed and applied to classify interventions along a continuum based on evidence about their effectiveness in the U.S. context, reach, adoption, implementation, institutionalization, and benefits and costs.


Thirteen articles published between 2006 and 2010 met inclusion criteria and were abstracted systematically, yet when combined with evidence from articles from the previous systematic review, no additional interventions could be recommended for practice. Moreover, the reporting of external validity elements was low among a subset of 19 studies published to date (median=21% of elements reported). By applying the expanded evidence rating typology, one intervention was classified as evidence-based, seven as promising, and one as emerging.


Several physical activity interventions have been identified as promising for future research and implementation in Latin America. Enhanced reporting of external validity elements will inform the translation of research into practice.

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