Policy Brief

Policy Brief on Promoting Physical Activity Among Adolescents

Leila Mounesan, Mahdi Sepidarkish, Hamed Hosseini, Ayat Ahmadi, Gelayol Ardalan,1 Roya Kelishadi,2 and Reza Majdzadeh
International Journal of Preventive Medicine
Publication Year:
May 05, 2020
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being


Regular physical activity (PA) is an underlying factor since childhood and adolescence for having a healthy and active future for life. The aim of this stud y was to review the evidence on increasing the youth PA to develop the national program at country level. At first, the databases were searched using the sensitive keywords, and systematic reviews of the relevant databases were extracted. The studies were evaluated in terms of relevance and methodological quality for effective interventions that were detected. These cases were also identified in the effective interventions: disadvantages, benefits, costs, methods, and limitations of early studies, which were based on systematic review of the studies. Three interventions were identified as physical education curriculum reform, the creation of extra-curricular activities, as well as approaches to environmental and social support. Evidences showed that the relative impact of these interventions were not high. Thus, a combination of all three options of integrated approach is recommended for reducing the sedentary lifestyle of youths.



In spite of the public awareness about the health benefits of physical activity (PA) for youths, still there are barriers for an active lifestyle in many communities. The purpose of this study was to develop a national program to increase the PA in adolescents. Indeed, the obtained data from National School-Based Surveillance of Students’ High Risk Behaviors indicated the decrease in PA is a serious problem and an action must be done.[1] As a result, some interventions should be chosen for implementation. Those interventions should be approved by using the best available evidences and they should also be practical. Due to the nature of the PA, it is necessary to consider the beneficiary of various interventions to make the final choice. In the literature of evidence informed policy making, for these cases, the recommendation of formulated policy brief (PB) have been suggested. PB is a new approach in producing and presenting the evidences for decision makers and policymakers and is consisted of a compilation of systematic reviews and local evidences.[2] Explaining the position of PB and the manner of its formulation is shown in another article, but according to the author's knowledge, this is the first published PB in the peer review journals as the result of the conducted studies in Iran. For the formulation of PB and due to this fact that the respondent groups are the decision makers, the article format is slightly different.

Initially, the problem was introduced and then the global and local evidences have been reviewed. In order to decide the level of performance, those interventions have been targeted which there were good evidences for their effectiveness. It means that there were a set of synthesized evidences for their effectiveness. However, when introducing this option to the decision makers, various aspects of the intervention were offered to make better decisions. The introduction of policy options has been mentioned in this article.


Introducing the problem

Around the world, wide ranges of interventions and major policies have been performed for increasing the physical activity in children and adolescents.[35] However, despite that, still no agreement exists for a certain type of intervention.[6,7] Today, lack of physical activity is one of the dilemmas of modern life and the importance of this problem is more in adolescents’ age group and many of the beliefs and behavior habits can be formed and stabilized in the period of adolescence.[812] In our country, the problem of sedentary lifestyle adolescents is among the priority issues of the healthcare system.[13,14] Therefore, collecting the documentation, timely planning, and implementation of active interventions for adolescents can have a great influence in reducing the disease burden and population health in the long run. On the other hand, the local evidence in PA interventions was not enough and has some shortcomings.[1517] At the level of global evidence, the findings show that some interventions have been effective and others have been ineffective.[1823] The “Healthy people 2020” program also reflects a multiple approach to promote physical activity in children and adolescents.[24] However, there is always a gap to prevent intervention recommendation in order to be defined in various settings. In fact, the differences in the structure of study (type of study, how to evaluate outcomes) and in addition, various aspects of the PA issue in different communities have impact on items such as culture, religion, ethnicity, facilities, and resources.[6,25] Since most of the adolescents spend a significant amount of time in school, therefore the use of school-based interventions is considered as an effective approach to increase the physical activity.[18,26] This can be a range of activities during the school time, before or after it, and the school is the focal point of these activities. Hence, this document was prepared to provide evidence-based policy options including barriers, facilitators, and resources for Iranian adolescents to promote physical activity. Therefore, the policy makers can make more confident decisions and have better choices for planning interventions.


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