Associations of Physical Activity Policies With Sports Participation in EU Countries: Higher Overall Levels, Smaller Social Inequalities, and More Positive Trends Since 2009

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: European Union member countries agreed on 23 health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) policy measures in 2013; however, the implementation of these measures varies considerably between countries. Hitherto, no evaluations have yet addressed the efficacy of these policies. Methods: Using a quantitative cross-country comparative approach and based on aggregate Eurobarometer data, this paper presents country-level associations between HEPA measures and the level of sports participation, the gender and educational inequalities of sports participation, and the change in sports participation from 2009 to 2017. Findings: The number of implemented HEPA policy measures is associated with higher levels and smaller social inequalities of sports participation in European Union countries. Moreover, HEPA measures correlate with more positive time trends in sports participation from 2009 to 2017. Conclusion: In addition to the many influencing factors at the individual and social levels, these findings lend support to the notion that sports participation can also be promoted at the national level by implementing specific HEPA policies.

The authors are with the Institute of Sport Science, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Gießen, Germany.

Mutz (michael.mutz@sport.uni-giessen.de) is corresponding author.
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