Improving physical activity in adolescents in deprived urban neighborhoods


Evert Verhagen


The project team is composed of Saskia Boonzajer-Flaes (PhD candidate), Evert Verhagen (Associate Professor), and Willem van Mechelen (Professor). This project is conducted in collaboration with the Richard Krajicek Foundation.


Background: The relative number of adolescents meeting the minimal required dose of daily physical activity (PA) remains execrably low. It has been estimated that in 2015 one out of five adolescents is overweight. A low level of PA at adolescents ages is associated with a multitude of health issues at later ages. The ability to increase the level of PA in can therefore result in considerable health gain on the short as well as the long term.

Objective: To gain insight into the short and long term effects of altering the physical environment of secondary VMBO schools in deprived neighbourhoods on physical activity levels in 12-18 year old adolescents. 

Methods: The effectiveness of the intervention is evaluated using a prospective non-randomized study in which schools will be matched. The research population will consist of 2,400 adolescents aged between 12 and 18 from 8 secondary VMBO schools located in deprived neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. The intervention consists of the placement of a so-called Krajicek playground nearby 4 VMBO schools located in deprived neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. The overall goal of such playgrounds is to stimulate daily physical PA in a social safe environment, for adolescents in deprived neighbourhoods where PA possibilities are limited. The primary outcome measure is the percentage of adolescents meeting the NNGB. The secondary outcome measures include factors related to health (i.e. body eight, sum of 4 skin folds, physical fitness) and factors relate to daily PA (i.e. determinants of PA behaviour). Furthermore, several process outcomes are measured.