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      Feasibility and Effect of the Exergame BOOSTH Introduced to Improve Physical Activity and Health in Children: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial


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          Despite the well-known beneficial health effects of physical activity (PA), the majority of Dutch primary school children do not meet the recommended PA guidelines. Although there is growing evidence on the effectiveness of exergames for PA in children, there is limited evidence on their effect on health outcomes, such as cardiovascular health and health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and on factors influencing their effectiveness and feasibility. The exergame BOOSTH uses a wrist-worn activity tracker to measure steps per day. As a reward for the performed PA, children can unlock levels in the online BOOSTH game. In addition, “BOOSTH battle” enables competition between groups.


          This protocol describes a cluster randomized controlled trial in 16 primary schools in the Netherlands investigating the effect of BOOSTH on moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) using accelerometry. Secondary aims are to investigate the feasibility of BOOSTH (mixed methods: questionnaires and focus group interviews) and its effect on cardiovascular risk factors (anthropometrics, blood pressure, and retinal microvasculature) and HRQOL.


          Stratification variables and relevant variables related to outcomes (such as BMI [z-score], sex, age, and parenting style) and/or missingness will be taken into account. Measurements will be performed at baseline and after 3, 6, and 12 months.


          The study has received funding from Province Limburg (SAS-2015-04956) and received ethical approval from the Medical Ethics Committee of Maastricht University Medical Centre (METC172043/NL64324.068.17). The results of the analyses are expected to be published in 2021.


          With this study, the ability of the exergame BOOSTH to increase PA and improve health in children of primary school age will be investigated. The insights into effectiveness and feasibility will result in scientific and societal recommendations, which could potentially contribute to widespread implementation of exergames for children.

          Trial Registration

          ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03440580; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03440580.

          International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID)


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          Most cited references44

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          Extended international (IOTF) body mass index cut-offs for thinness, overweight and obesity : Extended international BMI cut-offs

          The international (International Obesity Task Force; IOTF) body mass index (BMI) cut-offs are widely used to assess the prevalence of child overweight, obesity and thinness. Based on data from six countries fitted by the LMS method, they link BMI values at 18 years (16, 17, 18.5, 25 and 30 kg m(-2)) to child centiles, which are averaged across the countries. Unlike other BMI references, e.g. the World Health Organization (WHO) standard, these cut-offs cannot be expressed as centiles (e.g. 85th). To address this, we averaged the previously unpublished L, M and S curves for the six countries, and used them to derive new cut-offs defined in terms of the centiles at 18 years corresponding to each BMI value. These new cut-offs were compared with the originals, and with the WHO standard and reference, by measuring their prevalence rates based on US and Chinese data. The new cut-offs were virtually identical to the originals, giving prevalence rates differing by < 0.2% on average. The discrepancies were smaller for overweight and obesity than for thinness. The international and WHO prevalences were systematically different before/after age 5. Defining the international cut-offs in terms of the underlying LMS curves has several benefits. New cut-offs are easy to derive (e.g. BMI 35 for morbid obesity), and they can be expressed as BMI centiles (e.g. boys obesity = 98.9th centile), allowing them to be compared with other BMI references. For WHO, median BMI is relatively low in early life and high at older ages, probably due to its method of construction. © 2012 The Authors. Pediatric Obesity © 2012 International Association for the Study of Obesity.
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            Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth

            Background The purpose was to: 1) perform a systematic review of studies examining the relation between physical activity, fitness, and health in school-aged children and youth, and 2) make recommendations based on the findings. Methods The systematic review was limited to 7 health indicators: high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, the metabolic syndrome, obesity, low bone density, depression, and injuries. Literature searches were conducted using predefined keywords in 6 key databases. A total of 11,088 potential papers were identified. The abstracts and full-text articles of potentially relevant papers were screened to determine eligibility. Data was abstracted for 113 outcomes from the 86 eligible papers. The evidence was graded for each health outcome using established criteria based on the quantity and quality of studies and strength of effect. The volume, intensity, and type of physical activity were considered. Results Physical activity was associated with numerous health benefits. The dose-response relations observed in observational studies indicate that the more physical activity, the greater the health benefit. Results from experimental studies indicate that even modest amounts of physical activity can have health benefits in high-risk youngsters (e.g., obese). To achieve substantive health benefits, the physical activity should be of at least a moderate intensity. Vigorous intensity activities may provide even greater benefit. Aerobic-based activities had the greatest health benefit, other than for bone health, in which case high-impact weight bearing activities were required. Conclusion The following recommendations were made: 1) Children and youth 5-17 years of age should accumulate an average of at least 60 minutes per day and up to several hours of at least moderate intensity physical activity. Some of the health benefits can be achieved through an average of 30 minutes per day. [Level 2, Grade A]. 2) More vigorous intensity activities should be incorporated or added when possible, including activities that strengthen muscle and bone [Level 3, Grade B]. 3) Aerobic activities should make up the majority of the physical activity. Muscle and bone strengthening activities should be incorporated on at least 3 days of the week [Level 2, Grade A].
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              Calibration of two objective measures of physical activity for children.

              A calibration study was conducted to determine the threshold counts for two commonly used accelerometers, the ActiGraph and the Actical, to classify activities by intensity in children 5 to 8 years of age. Thirty-three children wore both accelerometers and a COSMED portable metabolic system during 15 min of rest and then performed up to nine different activities for 7 min each, on two separate days in the laboratory. Oxygen consumption was measured on a breath-by-breath basis, and accelerometer data were collected in 15-s epochs. Using receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) analysis, cutpoints that maximised both sensitivity and specificity were determined for sedentary, moderate and vigorous activities. For both accelerometers, discrimination of sedentary behaviour was almost perfect, with the area under the ROC curve at or exceeding 0.98. For both the ActiGraph and Actical, the discrimination of moderate (0.85 and 0.86, respectively) and vigorous activity (0.83 and 0.86, respectively) was acceptable, but not as precise as for sedentary behaviour. This calibration study, using indirect calorimetry, suggests that the two accelerometers can be used to distinguish differing levels of physical activity intensity as well as inactivity among children 5 to 8 years of age.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                December 2020
                11 December 2020
                : 9
                : 12
                : e24035
                [1 ] Department of Nutrition and Movement Sciences Maastricht University Medical Centre Maastricht Netherlands
                [2 ] Maastricht University Maastricht Netherlands
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Gabrielle ten Velde gabrielle.ten.velde@ 123456mumc.nl
                Author information
                ©Gabrielle ten Velde, Guy Plasqui, Maartje Willeboordse, Bjorn Winkens, Anita Vreugdenhil. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 11.12.2020.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 1 September 2020
                : 1 October 2020
                : 14 October 2020
                : 27 October 2020

                exercise,sedentary lifestyle,mhealth,mobile health,serious game,exergame,prevention,pupil,randomized controlled trial


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