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The Odense Preschool study, TOPS

Physical Activity among Preschool Children in Odense .

In the autumn of 2008 a health and interdisciplinary research project has begun. The aim is to do research related to physical activity and health on a group of 650 5 - 6-year-old children and the 43 preschools they are attending.


The purpose of carrying out this study in different preschools is a wish to find factors having implications for physical activity and their impact on children’s well-being, health and development.
It will also be examined how the preschool’s pedagogical basis and daily life activities influence the children's social and cognitive development.

The intention is to study what can support positive developments regarding children's well-being and their health, and thereby also find ways to prevent problems related to a passive lifestyle.

Who is responsible for the project?

The project is conducted by staff and PhD Students at the Centre for Research in Childhood Health (RICH), University of Southern Denmark. The head of the Centre, Karsten Froberg, is also the project manager.


The project started in August 2008 and is expected to run until 2012 and 2013. Within the first year all the preschools have been visited and different types of information have been collected.

What data has been collected?
- All the Preschools were visited during autumn 2008. The pedagogical environment and children’s possibilities for physical activity have been rated.

· The parents of the 5-year-old children have been answering two questionnaires: One questionnaire concerning the well-being of their child and another concerning the health and lifestyle of the family.

· The staffs in all preschools has also been answering a questionnaire about their physical activity, lifestyle, pedagogical considerations, planning of activities, trips to outdoor areas, etc.

· The children's height, weight and waist circumference has been measured.

· Different motor tests were performed on the children using the ‘Körper Koordinationstest für Kinder (KTK) ‘, and parts of ‘The Movement ABC-2 test’.

· Activity patterns of the 5 to 6 year-old children, as well as the staff working with preschool children, have worn motion sensors in a period of one week. The motion sensors detect activity and activity intensity.

· The area of the preschools was measured and the environment and facilities on the playgrounds were registered.

· A few selected preschools were visited by project members for a longer period, doing more extensive observations of the daily life in the preschool. Observations were completed with the least possible intervention in the children's usual activities. During the observation period, interviews with children and staff concerning their well-being, and video observations of children´s play in daily life, have taken place.

Who are the researchers?
The researchers included in the project are PhD-students each having their focus area. The researchers will work together in order to accomplish the project and thereby obtain the best possible meaningful knowledge.

- Physical activity and motor skills, including overweight and obesity will be examined from a biological/exercise and health scientific perspective, by Line Grønholt Olesen.

-The pedagogical processes and child development opportunities will be examined from a pedagogical and psychological perspective, by Hanne Værum Sørensen.

-Well-being and pedagogical body culture will be examined from a health science and anthropological perspective, by Anette Boye Koch

Pedagogues, children and parents
Implementation of the project is depending on the families’, the children’s and the staff’s willingness to share what is happening in their daily lives and answer questions. The researchers have strived to be as least inconvenient to children and staff as possible. We have experienced great hospitality and goodwill and are very grateful for the big support to the project from children, parents and staff!

Similar studies in the childcare area in Denmark have not been carried through in the past. The information we are gathering will therefore create new knowledge concerning the requirements for Danish children to meet as good conditions as possible in the childcare system.

The project will contribute with new knowledge of issues affecting children's health and wellbeing. It may likewise contribute to the formulation of new guidelines for preventive health work for children and health promoting initiatives in the day care centers of children.
The results will be disseminated to the pedagogical field, partly written through books / reports, and orally through participation in courses and conferences as well as on pedagogical training courses. Publications of the research will also be presented at national and international conferences and in scientific periodicals and journals. In publication of the results, the preschools, the staff, the children and their parents will be anonymous.

Published articles can be found using the link on the top of this page.

The project currently receives financial support from TrygFonden and the University of Southern Denmark. Child and Youth Pedagogues Association (BUPL) is supporting the project with financial resources together with Odense Municipality, VIA University College (Jydsk and Peter Sabroe Seminariet, National Institute’s for Social Educators in Århus) and the Knowledge Centre for Health, Diet and Exercise (KOSMOS).

Ahead of each individual element of the project, information has been given to parents and staffs on the specific investigation activities, in which they are expected to participate. Where it has been required in the process, we have obtained written commitment from the parents.
The results of the children’s personal study will be kept confidential, and no one but the child and the parent can get insight into these results.

Project Manager and Assistant Project Manager

Associate Professor Karsten Froberg, e-mail:  tel 6550 3457. Mobile 60113457

Assistant Professor Peter Lund Kristensen, e-mail: Mobile 61787949

Project Officers PhD student at the Department of Sport and Biomechanics

University of Southern Denmark, Odense

- Anette Boye Koch, e-mail:  tel: 6061 0710

- Sarah Værum Sorensen, e-mail:  tel 6011 0744

- Line Grønholt Olesen, email: tel 4068 0997
























Last Updated 07.08.2017