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School-based physical education programs: evidence-based physical activity interventions for youth in Latin America

Abstract: This article focuses on results of the systematic review from the Guide for Useful Interventions for Activity in Latin America project related to school-based physical education (PE) programs in Latin America. The aims of the article are to describe five school-based PE programsfrom Latin America, discuss implications for effective school-based PE recommendations, propose approaches for implementing these interventions, and identify gaps in the research literature relatedto physical activity promotion in Latin American youth. Following the US Community Guidesystematic review process, five school-based PE intervention studies with sufficient quality of design, execution and detail of intervention and outcomes were selected for full abstraction. One study wasconducted in Brazil, two studies were conducted in Chile and two studies were conducted on the US/Mexico border. While studies presented assorted outcomes, methods and duration of interventions, there were consistent positive increases in physical activity levels for all outcomes measuredduring PE classes, endurance and active transportation to school in all three randomized studies. Except for one cohort from one study, the non-randomized studies showed positive intervention effects for moderate and vigorous physical activity levels during PE classes. The core elements of these five interventions included capacity building and staff training (PE specialists and/or classroomteachers); changes in the PE curricula; provision of equipment and materials; and adjustment of theinterventions to specific target populations. In order to translate the strong evidence for school-basedPE into practice, systematic attention to policy and implementation issues is required. (Global HealthPromotion, 2010; 17(2): pp. 05–15)Key words: Latin America, physical activity, physical education, school-based intervention,systematic review, youth