Degree Name

Bachelor of Education- Honours


Faculty of Education


The prevalence of Australian primary school children being classified as overweight or obese is rapidly increasing. Numerous factors have been identified as the cause of this rising trend, with physical activity and sedentary behaviours regarded as key determinants. Traditionally many prevention and treatment programs have been implemented through the formal school curriculum however, another setting, which is yet to be thoroughly evaluated, is using school sites during the after-school time period, broadly encompassing 3pm to 5pm.

The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility, acceptability, and potential efficacy of an after-school homework club, physical activity and sport program for primary school girls. Specifically the study investigated process evaluations including the recruitment, attendance, and retention of primary school girls, the collection of measurements, implementation data, and enjoyment of session information. The effect of the Wollongong Sport Program on participants BMI, BMI z Score, Waist Circumference, Perceived Level of Competence, and Quality of Life were also examined.

Thirteen girls aged 8 to 10 years from one Illawarra Primary School were recruited to the 9-week program, which focused on preventing unhealthy weight gain through the promotion of enjoyable and challenging physical activity sessions.

Process data were gathered at the beginning and throughout the entire program. At baseline and follow-up, the participants BMI, BMI z Score, Quality of Life, and Perceived Competence were collected.

The school executive, particularly the principal and stage two-coordinator identified the targeted number of girls who they believed would benefit most from being involved in the Wollongong Sport Program.

The physical activity and sport component of the program enabled all participants to have the opportunity to partake in various activities and games that were fun, challenging, individualised and allowed every participant to be successful. The program was conducted in an all female environment that promoted and encouraged positive social interaction among the participants and facilitators in union with providing all girls with encouraging and constructive feedback. This contributed to a 100% retention rate, a mean attendance rating of 93% and an overall mean participant enjoyment rating for each of the 15 intended sessions of 4.5 on a 5-point scale.

Dependent-sample t-tests were used to analyse the BMI, BMI z Score, Quality of Life and Perceived Competence data. Two analyses were completed: the first for the entire sample and the second on the eight participants who were overweight or obese. The sample size for this study did not provide adequate statistical power to detect statistical significant differences.

The results showed a stabilisation and small reduction in the girls BMI and BMI z Score for the entire sample and for those participants who were overweight or obese respectively. The Child and Parent Reported Quality of Life results for the entire sample and for the overweight or obese girls showed a small improvement in each of the four PedsQL dimensions, with a statistically significant result (P=0.03) in the parent reported physical functioning for the entire sample.

The perceived competence data showed a small increase in five of the six domains for the entire sample and for the overweight and obese girls, suggesting a trend towards improved perceived competence. Significant results were found in the physical appearance domain (P=0.048) for all participants, and in the scholastic competence (P=0.049) and physical appearance (P=0.04) domains for the overweight and obese participants.

This single proof-of-concept study has gathered data about the feasibility, acceptability, and potential efficacy of an after-school homework club, physical activity, and sport program. This will provide information for the creation and modelling of future after-school prevention and treatment programs for overweight and obese children.

The Wollongong Sport Program has demonstrated it is achievable to stabilise unhealthy weight gain, improve perceived competence and quality of life using a stealth intervention design for primary school girls who are and who are not overweight or obese.