Effects of the KEIGAAF intervention on the BMI z-score and energy balance-related behaviors of primary school-aged children

Sacha R. B. Verjans-Janssen*, Sanne M. P. L. Gerards, Stef P. J. Kremers, Steven B. Vos, Maria W. J. Jansen, Dave H. H. Van Kann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of the current study was to evaluate the one- and two-year effectiveness of the KEIGAAF intervention, a school-based mutual adaptation intervention, on the BMI z-score (primary outcome), and energy balance-related behaviors (secondary outcomes) of children aged 7-10 years. A quasi-experimental study was conducted including eight intervention schools and three control schools located in low socioeconomic neighborhoods in the Netherlands. Baseline measurements were conducted in March and April 2017 and repeated after one and 2 years. Data were collected on children's BMI z-score, sedentary behavior (SB), physical activity (PA) behavior, and nutrition behavior through the use of anthropometric measurements, accelerometers, and questionnaires, respectively. All data were supplemented with demographics, and weather conditions data was added to the PA data. Based on the comprehensiveness of implemented physical activities, intervention schools were divided into schools having a comprehensive PA approach and schools having a less comprehensive approach. Intervention effects on continuous outcomes were analyzed using multiple linear mixed models and on binary outcome measures using generalized estimating equations. Intervention and control schools were compared, as well as comprehensive PA schools, less comprehensive PA schools, and control schools. Effect sizes (Cohen's d) were calculated.

In total, 523 children participated. Children were on average 8.5 years old and 54% were girls. After 2 years, intervention children's BMI z-score decreased (B = -0.05, 95% CI -0.11;0.01) significantly compared to the control group (B = 0.20, 95% CI 0.09;0.31). Additionally, the intervention prevented an age-related decline in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) (%MVPA:B = 0.95, 95% CI 0.13;1.76). Negative intervention effects were seen on sugar-sweetened beverages and water consumption at school, due to larger favorable changes in the control group compared to the intervention group. After 2 years, the comprehensive PA schools showed more favorable effects on BMI z-score, SB, and MVPA compared to the other two conditions.

This study shows that the KEIGAAF intervention is effective in improving children's MVPA during school days and BMI z-score, especially in vulnerable children. Additionally, we advocate the implementation of a comprehensive approach to promote a healthy weight status, to stimulate children's PA levels, and to prevent children from spending excessive time on sedentary behaviors. Trial registration Netherlands Trial Register, NTR6716 (), Registered 27 June 2017 - retrospectively registered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2020


  • Health promoting schools
  • BMI
  • Physical activity
  • Nutrition
  • Children
  • Intervention
  • Primary school

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