Activity and Healthy Eating in Adolescence

Lead investigator
Professor Rona Campbell, University of Bristol

There is little high-quality evidence about how to increase physical activity and healthy eating amongst adolescents. The peer-led model developed during ASSIST, a previous study in the School of Social and Community Medicine, offers a potentially effective approach.

Aims & objectives
To develop and test a programme of peer supporter training to encourage increased physical activity and healthy eating. To explore with key stakeholders the barriers to, and facilitators of, physical activity and healthy eating to inform the development of the peer supporter intervention. To develop a training programme for peer supporters that would enable them, in everyday situations, to encourage increased physical activity and healthy eating amongst their peers.
Study design

Two-year feasibility study incorporating two of the phases in the MRC’s framework for evaluating complex interventions.

Phase I: Focus groups and pilot study
  • Six focus group discussions (each involving 8 participants) held with young people aged 11-13 years, and interviews with other stakeholders e.g. health promotion and public health experts, teachers, school nurses, youth workers and parents.
  • Develop schools-based peer-led intervention to increase physical activity and healthy eating amongst Year 8 students, based on existing evidence and focus group discussions with key stakeholders. This phase also includes a pilot study in one school.
Phase II: Exploratory trial
  • Six schools recruited to the exploratory trial. Three randomised to receive the intervention and three to act as control schools.
  • Primary outcomes measured: changes in levels of physical activity (activity counts per minute over a specified period of days) and changes in target food consumption (portions of target foods consumed over the same period of days).
  • Detailed, mainly qualitative, process evaluation carried out, to investigate the acceptability of the training to students, teachers, school nurses, parents and schools, and to record the trainers’ views.
  • Quantitative data collected on physical activity and target food consumption in all six schools at baseline, immediately post-intervention and at six months post-intervention.
  •  Economic evaluation assesses the costs of the peer supporter training programme.
Further information & publications
Start date
October 2007
End date
December 2009

Department of Health research initiative to support implementation of the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services

Trial register number