Agita São Paulo: Utilizing sport to promote physical activity

Dean Pham, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This thesis is based on my practicum I completed at the Physical Fitness Research Center of São Caetano do Sul. I sought to answer three questions: (1) What are the strategies and outcomes of international community-based interventions aimed at promoting physical activity in children and adolescents that have been implemented to date?; (2) What is Agita São Paulo's community-based model for partnering with organizations to promote physical activity in children and youth?; and (3) How has Agita leveraged the sociocultural influence of futebol and the hosting of mega sporting events such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics to influence physical activity in children and youth? This project is descriptive in nature and included an extensive literature review and the administration of two semi-structured interviews and seven self-administered surveys to staff members (i.e. planners and coordinators) of the Agita São Paulo program (n=9). Interviews were transcribed and surveys were translated from Portuguese to English. Thematic content analysis was then employed to search for common and recurring themes. In addition, data were recorded from participants observations of daily operations and attendance at daily meetings held at the Agita São Paulo's research center. My observations were recorded and served as another source of data to verify my findings. Findings from my research indicate that the Agita program has been successful in large part due to its wide network of intersectoral (e.g. state secretariats and universities) and intrasectoral (e.g. service organizations such as the Rotary Club and Lions Club) partnerships. The Agita program uses an adaptable mobile management style (see Fig. 2) that allows the program to change its focus based on needs of a given community or region. For example, if intrapersonal factors have been successfully targeted, resources and efforts may be redirected to address components in the physical environment. Social marketing and non-paid media have contributed to the visibility and successful dissemination of Agita's messaging. The intervention program hosts two annual mega events to increase its visibility: Agita Galera and the walking parade to celebrate World Day for Physical Activity. Agita has marketing plans with World Cup and Olympics organizers in the form of cartoons and posters to be displayed publicly, t-shirts, and mega-events that will attempt to involve spectators and the local community to participate in physical activity and exercises. Unfortunately my research concluded before these events took place so I cannot speak with certainty that these proposed actions will even be implemented. At the start of my research, I believed that the spectacle of mega sporting events would induce some increase in physical activity of the population; however, my findings suggest otherwise. Across my key informant interviews, informants were skeptical that Brazil's hosting of the World Cup and the Olympics would bring about any positive changes related to physical activity among the general population. As a result, and serendipitously through my own personal experience living in São Paulo, I proposed that CELAFISCS turn to a more innovative use of social media (i.e. YouTube workout videos) to try and reach more of the general population. While the program has traditionally used print media such as sticker, flyers, posters, and cartoons, the Agita program has been underutilizing online social media sites. This method is cost-effective, has the potential to reach a wide range of people in the general population, and is not subject to the corruption of politicians that so many Brazilians have a disdain for. The key themes I identified in exploring the success and lessons learned of the Agita program included the pioneering efforts of Agita in placing physical activity on the public policy agenda; the dissemination of strong scientific evidence-based research; and the clear, simple messaging of Agita and leveraging of the unpaid media marketing to disseminate messaging through strategic partnerships. Ongoing challenges for Agita include and financial self-sustainability, program evaluation, and lack of domestic recognition for Agita's many achievements. Despite these obstacles, Agita continues to be a model for promoting physical activity in youth through community partnerships and social marketing across public schools, government entities, and sport clubs. Promising future directions for strengthening the Agita program include more proactive efforts in procuring partnerships and alternative funding opportunities as well as utilizing an established Internet presence to explore online social media networks to more creatively promote physical activity in the community.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Sports Management|Public health|Kinesiology

Recommended Citation

Pham, Dean, "Agita São Paulo: Utilizing sport to promote physical activity" (2014). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1566281.