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Aims were to investigate sex, ethnicity, and age differences in achieving daily step count and television (TV) watching recommendations in schoolchildren.
Participants were 615 children (n = 325) and adolescents (n = 290) aged 5 to 16 years. Activity was assessed over 5 days using pedometers; TV time was collected via parental proxy-report and self-report. Ethnic, sex, and age differences in step counts, TV time, and odds of meeting TV and step count recommendations were examined for weekdays, weekend days, and overall using generalized estimation equation modeling.
Overall, boys were more active than girls (P < .001). Adolescents were more active than children (P = .044), watched more TV (P = .005), and were less likely to meet TV watching recommendations (P = .004). Non-European children watched significantly more TV (P = .008), and were significantly less likely to meet TV recommendations than non-European children (P = .001). Participants watched more TV and accumulated less steps on weekend days than weekdays.
Multifaceted interventions focusing on both increasing activity and decreasing TV time are needed, especially on weekends. Children and girls may benefit more from activity interventions, while ethnic-specific interventions focusing on TV habits may be most efficacious for adolescents.
The authors are with the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.