The Association Between Perceived Athletic Competence and Physical Activity: Implications for Low-Income Schoolchildren

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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Purpose: Socioeconomic status (SES) may impact children’s physical activity (PA) behaviors and confidence to participate in PA. We examined how SES modifies the relationship between children’s perceived athletic competence (PAC) and moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA). Methods: Children (N = 1157; 45% male; grades 3–4) were recruited for the Fueling Learning through Exercise study. Free/reduced price lunch eligibility was used as an indicator of SES. Seven-day accelerometry (ActiGraph GT3X+) was used to measure daily MVPA, out-of-school MVPA (O-MVPA), and school-time MVPA. PAC was assessed using the Harter’s Self-Perception Profile for Children (6 items, scored 1–4; median split: high and low PAC). Results: MVPA and PAC differed between low-SES [n = 556; 41.6 (17.1) min/d; high PAC = 45%] and middle-SES children [n = 412; 49.6 (22.7) min/d; high PAC = 62%]. There was an interaction between SES and PAC for MVPA (P < .001) and O-MVPA (P < .001), but not for school-time MVPA (P > .05). Middle-SES children with high PAC were more likely to engage in MVPA (β = 6.6 min/d; 95% confidence interval, 3.9 to 9.3; P < .001) and O-MVPA (β = 4.8 min/d; 95% confidence interval, 2.8 to 6.8; P < .001), associations that did not exist for low-SES children (P > .05). Conclusions: PAC was positively associated with daily MVPA and O-MVPA, but not among low-SES children. Research is needed to elucidate the factors that shape the relationship between PAC and MVPA.

Amin, Duquesnay, Wright, and Economos are with the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA. Chui is with the Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA. Sacheck is with the Dept. of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Address author correspondence to Sarah A. Amin at s.amin@tufts.edu.
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