Using Paid Radio Advertisements to Promote Physical Activity Among Arkansas Tweens
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Using Paid Radio Advertisements to Promote Physical Activity Among Arkansas Tweens

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      The level of physical activity among children is a growing concern. Evidence shows that many children aged 9 to 13 years (tweens) do not participate in any organized physical activity during their nonschool hours, and some do not engage in any free-time physical activity. Physical inactivity is associated with a host of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Paid media advertisements have been an effective method of promoting physical activity.


      From March 10, 2003, through June 29, 2003, we aired paid radio advertisements in six major Arkansas metropolitan areas to promote physical activity among tweens. In September 2003, we surveyed 295 Arkansas tweens by telephone to assess their exposure to the advertisements and the impact of the advertisements on their intent to participate in physical activity. In the same telephone survey, we also asked questions about the respondents' physical activity level. The data were weighted so that the results would be representative of the areas surveyed. The statistical analysis was performed using SPSS, version 11.5 (SPSS Inc, Chicago, Ill).


      Of the tweens surveyed, 56.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 50.7%–62.1%) reported hearing the radio advertisements. Of the tweens who heard the advertisement messages, 76.1% (95% CI, 69.4%–82.8%) said the messages made them more likely to get involved in physical activity. Younger tweens (aged 9 and 10 years) were less likely to have heard the advertisements than older tweens (aged 11 to 13 years). However, the advertisements were more likely to cause younger tweens to want to get involved in physical activity (odds ratio [OR] = 6.89, P = .003) than older tweens. Of the tweens surveyed, 74.9% (95% CI, 70.0%–79.8%) reported that they were involved in nonschool-sponsored sports, and 45.3% (95% CI, 39.6%–51.0%) were involved in school-sponsored sports.


      Paid media advertisements may be an effective way to promote physical activity among tweens. More rigorous evaluations of the impact of paid media advertisements among tweens, with larger samples and additional media markets, are needed. Future physical activity promotion efforts should focus on encouraging participation in school-sponsored sports and creating community environments conducive to physical activity.

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