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BMC Pediatr. 2014 May 5;14:118. doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-14-118.

A policy-driven multifaceted approach for early childhood physical fitness promotion: impacts on body composition and physical fitness in young Chinese children.

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School of Recreation and Community Sports, Capital University of Physical Education and Sports, Beijing, China.



The prevalence of obesity increased while certain measures of physical fitness deteriorated in preschool children in China over the past decade. This study tested the effectiveness of a multifaceted intervention that integrated childcare center, families, and community to promote healthy growth and physical fitness in preschool Chinese children.


This 12-month study was conducted using a quasi-experimental pretest/posttest design with comparison group. The participants were 357 children (mean age = 4.5 year) enrolled in three grade levels in two childcare centers in Beijing, China. The intervention included: 1) childcare center intervention (physical activity policy changes, teacher training, physical education curriculum and food services training), 2) family intervention (parent education, internet website for support, and family events), and 3) community intervention (playground renovation and community health promotion events). The study outcome measures included body composition (percent body fat, fat mass, and muscle mass), Body Mass Index (BMI) and BMI z-score and physical fitness scores in 20-meter agility run (20M-AR), broad jump for distance (BJ), timed 10-jumps, tennis ball throwing (TBT), sit and reach (SR), balance beam walk (BBW), 20-meter crawl (20M-C)), 30-meter sprint (30M-S)) from a norm referenced test. Measures of process evaluation included monitoring of children's physical activity (activity time and intensity) and food preparation records, and fidelity of intervention protocol implementation.


Children in the intervention center significantly lowered their body fat percent (-1.2%, p < 0.0001), fat mass (-0.55 kg, p <0.0001), and body weight (0.36 kg, p <0.02) and increased muscle mass (0.48 kg, p <0.0001), compared to children in the control center. They also improved all measures of physical fitness except timed 10-jumps (20M-AR: -0.74 seconds, p < 0.0001; BJ: 8.09 cm, p < 0.0001; TBT: 0.52 meters, p < 0.006; SR: 0.88 cm, p < 0.03; BBW: -2.02 seconds, p <0.0001; 30M-S: -0.45 seconds, p < 0.02; 20M-C: -3.36 seconds, p < 0.0001). Process evaluation data showed that the intervention protocol was implemented with high fidelity.


The study demonstrated that a policy-driven multi-faceted intervention can improve preschool children's body composition and physical fitness. Program efficacy should be tested in a randomized trial.



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