Physical activity in adolescence has been associated with improvements to metabolic health, mental health and maths performance. However, globally adolescents are not active enough. Furthermore, in 2016 around one in five (324 million) adolescents (10-24y) worldwide were overweight or obese. Simulations based on the current levels of childhood (2-19y) obesity in the United States have projected that almost 60% of children today will be obese at age 35, increasing the burden to society through productivity loss.
There is a need to successfully implement methods of increasing physical activity and reducing obesity in adolescent populations.
Schools are often targeted as settings for physical activity promotion and obesity prevention. However, a focus on behaviour change at the individual level and lack of acknowledgement for the multidimensional influences on adolescent physical activity and weight-related outcomes can limit the success of interventions within schools. Adopting a socioecological approach and intervening at multiple levels to address the wider school environment may bring rise to sustained improvements to adolescent health. The overarching aim of my PhD is to explore how the school policy, social and physical environment may be harnessed to increase physical activity and improve the weight status of adolescents.