School Health Education Program in Pakistan (SHEPP): Findings from a feasibility trial in pre-adolescent school children from a lower middle-income country

Document Type



Internal Medicine; Community Health Sciences; Cardiology; Medicine


Background: The school environment plays an essential role in promoting health education and physical activity for children and adolescents. We aim to assess the feasibility of threefold health education program in children and its potential efficacy on physical activity and diet and cardiometabolic risk factors including blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference.
Methods: The SHEPP was a parallel group feasibility intervention trial conducted in two schools over 23 months. All children aged 9-11 years enrolled in the schools were included. The SHEPP intervention comprised of health education on healthy lifestyle and physical activity sessions for children, training of teachers, and awareness sessions for parents conducted over 10 months. One school received the intervention of SHEPP while the other school continued routine activity. The primary outcome was the feasibility of SHEPP in terms of recruitment, retention, and treatment fidelity. Secondary outcomes were physical activity levels, dietary intake (of fruits and vegetables), and cardiometabolic risk factors (blood pressure, BMI, and waist circumference (WC)).
Results: A total of 1280 preadolescent children were assessed for eligibility and 1191 were found eligible. The overall recruitment n (%) was 982/1191(82.5%) with 505(51.4) from SHEPP intervention school and 477(48.6) in routine activity school. The overall retention rate n (%) at 10-month follow-up was 912/982(92.8), with 465/505(92) in SHEPP intervention school and 447/477(93.7) in routine activity school. In treatment fidelity, 132/144(92) %). Physical activity sessions and all (100%) health education sessions were conducted for each of the twelve classes. Mean (SD) Seven-day Physical activity increased by 134 (196) min in the SHEPP intervention school v 29.8(177) in the routine activity school (P value < 0.001) from baseline to follow-up. Overall, there was an increase in vegetable intake (> 3 serving /day) in SHEPP intervention school of 5.5 to 21.4% from baseline to follow-up compared to 7.5 to 14.9% in routine activity school. The mean change (SD) in systolic blood pressure was 1.3(12) mmHg, 2.2(19.0) mm Hg in in diastolic blood pressure, - 0.09(5.4) kg/m2 in BMI and 6.2 cm in waist circumference in the intervention arm versus - 3.4(11.1) mm Hg in SBP, - 4.3(9.9) mm Hg in DBP, - 0.04((4.6) kg/m2 in BMI, and 3.8 cm in WC in the control arm.
Conclusion: We found that intervention using SHEPP is feasible in schools and may help children to adopt a healthy lifestyle as they age by increasing physical activity. However, the potentially beneficial effect on diet, MI, and BP needs further exploration and a longer follow-up, more specifically at the juncture of teenage and adulthood.
Trial registration: NCT03303287.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

Pilot and Feasibility Studies