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Obes Rev. 2015 Dec;16 Suppl 2:57-67. doi: 10.1111/obr.12348.

Effectiveness of the IDEFICS intervention on objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time in European children.

Author information

Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Unit of Epidemiology and Population Genetics, Institute of Food Science, National Research Council, Avellino, Italy.
Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.
Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS, Bremen, Germany.
Research and Education Institute of Child Health, Strovolos, Cyprus.
National Institute for Health Development, Tallinn, Estonia.
Department of Pediatrics, The Queen Silvia Childrens' University Hospital, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary.
GENUD (Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development) Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain.
Department of Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.
College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.
Institute of Statistics, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.



This paper reports on the effectiveness of the prevention of dietary- and lifestyle-induced health effects in children and infants (IDEFICS) intervention on objectively measured physical activity (PA) and sedentary time (ST) in 2- to 9.9-year-old European boys and girls.


The intervention was evaluated after 2 years through a non-randomized cluster-controlled trial in eight European countries (one control and one intervention community per country). All children in the intervention group received a culturally adapted childhood obesity prevention programme through the community, schools/kindergartens and family. A random sub-sample of children participating in the IDEFICS study wore an accelerometer at baseline and follow-up for at least 3 days (n = 9,184). Of this sample, 81% provided valid accelerometer data at baseline (n = 7,413; 51% boys; 6.21 ± 1.76 years; boys: 617 ± 170 cpm day(-1) ; girls 556 ± 156 cpm day(-1) ) and 3,010 children provided valid accelerometer data at baseline and during the follow-up survey 2 years later.


In boys and girls, no significant differences in PA and ST were found between intervention and control groups over 2 years. Strong temporal effects were found in the total sample of boys and girls: the percentage of time spent in light PA per day decreased by 4 percentage points in both boys and girls between baseline and follow-up (both: p < 0.001), while time spent in ST per day increased by 4 percentage points in both sexes over time (both: p < 0.001). Percentage of time spent in moderate-to-vigorous PA per day remained stable over time in boys and girls.


Despite the socio-ecological approach and implementation of a culturally adapted intervention in each country, no effects of the IDEFICS intervention were found on children's objectively measured PA and ST. Behavioural interventions for children may need to enhance specificity and intensity at the family level using other behaviour change techniques and more direct strategies to reach parents.


Children; multi-level intervention; physical activity; sedentary time

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