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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Impact of a walking school bus program on children’s active commuting to school and physical activity)

item Mendoza, Jason
item Watson, Kathy
item Baranowski, Tom
item Nicklas, Theresa
item Uscanga, Doris
item Hanfling, Marcus

Submitted to: International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2010
Publication Date: 6/1/2010
Publication URL:
Citation: Mendoza, J., Watson, K., Baranowski, T., Nicklas, T., Uscanga, D., Hanfling, M. 2010. Impact of a walking school bus program on children’s active commuting to school and physical activity [abstract]. In: International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Abstract Book, June 9-12, 2010, Minneapolis, MN. p. 256.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The Walking School Bus (WSB) pilot program was evaluated to determine the impact on student’s Active Commuting to School (ACS) and moderate-to vigorous- physical activity (MVPA). We conducted a randomized controlled trial in 8 low income, elementary schools in Houston, TX, USA. Students (n=149) were ethnically diverse 4th graders. The intervention was a WSB program for 5 weeks; study staff walked with students to and from school up to 5-days/week. Outcomes were measured pre-intervention and 5 weeks later. The main outcome was the weekly rate of ACS. Daily MVPA, measured by accelerometers, was a secondary outcome (n=75). Potential covariates included child demographics and psychosocial variables, i.e. self-efficacy and outcome expectations. We used mixed-model regression to account for clustering by school; included two-way interactions with group to identify moderators; and used stepwise procedures with backward elimination of non-significant interactions and covariates to identify significant moderators and predictors. Intervention students had 26.4%+/-30.8% higher rates of ACS and had 9.2+/-5.4 more minutes of daily MVPA than controls at post assessments, controlling for baseline outcomes. Baseline ACS and parent outcome expectations were significant moderators of ACS at post assessment. As expected, baseline ACS was more strongly related to post ACS in the control schools. Intervention group students whose parents had high outcome expectations at baseline were more likely to do ACS at post assessment whereas the relationship was weaker among the controls. A WSB program appears promising to improve ACS and MVPA among urban, low income, elementary students.

Last Modified: 05/26/2017
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