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Observing Children’s Playground Activity Levels at 13 Illawarra Primary Schools Using CAST2

Anne-Maree Parrish, Don Iverson, Ken Russell, and Heather Yeatman


Declining levels of children’s physical activity may contribute to Australia’s increasing childhood obesity epidemic. School recess is an underutilized opportunity to increase children’s physical activity.1


Thirteen regional Australian public primary schools participated in the study (2946 children). The Children’s Activity Scanning Tool 2 (CAST2) collected observational playground physical activity data. The research also addressed: length of break, socioeconomic status (SES), gender, number of scanning days, and instrument calibration.


The proportions of Moderate or Vigorous Physically Activity (MVPA) children at the observed schools ranged from 0.4 to 0.7. The odds ratio of boys being MVPA relative to girls ranged from 0.8581 to 2.137. There were significant differences between the mean proportions of 3 days of activity (range P = .001 to P = .015) and no association between SES school groupings (deviance ratio: 0.48; P = .503). Interrater reliability for instrument calibration using Spearman correlations coefficients ranged from r = .71 to r = .99.


There were significant differences between proportions of MVPA children at the 13 schools and between male and female populations. There was no association between playground physical activity and SES. The monitoring period for CAST2 should be at least 3 days. Interrater reliability indicates that correlations between observers were consistently high.

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Participation in Domains of Physical Activity Among Australian Youth During the Transition From Childhood to Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study

Byron J. Kemp, Anne-Maree Parrish, Marijka Batterham, and Dylan P. Cliff

Background: Information about the domains of physical activity (PA) that are most prone to decline between late childhood (11 y), early adolescence (13 y), and mid-adolescence (15 y) may support more targeted health promotion strategies. This study explored longitudinal trends in nonorganized PA, organized PA, active transport and active chores/work between childhood and adolescence, and potential sociodemographic moderators of changes. Methods: Data were sourced from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (n = 4108). Participation in PA domains was extracted from youth time-use diaries. Potential moderators were sex, Indigenous status, language spoken at home, socioeconomic position, and geographical remoteness. Results: A large quadratic decline in nonorganized PA (−48 min/d, P < .001) was moderated by sex (β = 5.55, P = .047) and home language (β = 8.55, P = .047), with girls (−39 min/d) and those from a non-English speaking background (−46 min/d) declining more between 11 and 13 years. Active chores/work increased between 11 and 13 years (+4 min/d, P < .001) and then stabilized. Active transport increased among boys between 11 and 13 years (+6 min/d, P < .001) and then declined between 13 and 15 years (−4 min/d, P < .001). Organized PA remained stable. Conclusions: The longitudinal decline in PA participation may be lessened by targeting nonorganized PA between childhood and adolescence. Future interventions may target girls or those from non-English speaking backgrounds during this transition.

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Changes in 24-Hour Domain-Specific Movement Behaviors and Their Associations With Children’s Psychosocial Health During the Transition From Primary to Secondary School: A Compositional Data Analysis

Kar Hau Chong, Dorothea Dumuid, Dylan P. Cliff, Anne-Maree Parrish, and Anthony D. Okely

Background : Little is known about the influence of 24-hour movement behaviors on children’s psychosocial health when transitioning from primary to secondary school. This study described changes in 24-hour domain-specific movement behavior composition and explored their associations with changes in psychosocial health during this transition. Methods : Data were drawn from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. The analytical sample (n = 909) included children who were enrolled in primary school at baseline (2010) and in secondary school at follow-up (2012). Time spent in 8 domains of movement behaviors was derived from the child-completed time-use diaries. Psychosocial health was examined using the self-report version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires. Analyses included repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance and compositional regression. Results : Children reported engaging in more social activities and sleeping less over the transition period. Increased time spent in social activities (β ilr  = −0.06, P = .014) and recreational screen use (β ilr  = −0.17, P = .003) (relative to other domains) were associated with decreased prosocial behavior in boys. Changes in movement behavior composition were not associated with changes in girls’ psychosocial health. Conclusion : This study found considerable changes in children’s 24-hour movement behavior composition, but a lack of consistent association with changes in psychosocial health during the primary to secondary school transition.

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Promoting Physical Activity and Executive Functions Among Children: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of an After-School Program in Australia

Sanne L.C. Veldman, Rachel A. Jones, Rebecca M. Stanley, Dylan P. Cliff, Stewart A. Vella, Steven J. Howard, Anne-Maree Parrish, and Anthony D. Okely

Background: The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of an embedded after-school intervention, on promoting physical activity and academic achievement in primary-school-aged children. Methods: This 6-month, 2-arm cluster randomized controlled trial involved 4 after-school centers. Two centers were randomly assigned to the intervention, which involved training the center staff on and implementing structured physical activity (team sports and physical activity sessions for 75 min) and academic enrichment activities (45 min). The activities were implemented 3 afternoons per week for 2.5 hours. The control centers continued their usual after-school care practice. After-school physical activity (accelerometry) and executive functions (working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility) were assessed pre- and postintervention. Results: A total of 60 children were assessed (7.7 [1.8] y; 50% girls) preintervention and postintervention (77% retention rate). Children in the intervention centers spent significantly more time in moderate to vigorous physical activity (adjusted difference = 2.4%; 95% confidence interval, 0.6 to 4.2; P = .026) and scored higher on cognitive flexibility (adjusted difference = 1.9 units; 95% confidence interval, 0.9 to 3.0; P = .009). About 92% of the intervention sessions were implemented. The participation rates varied between 51% and 94%. Conclusion: This after-school intervention was successful at increasing moderate to vigorous physical activity and enhancing cognitive flexibility in children. As the intervention was implemented by the center staff and local university students, further testing for effectiveness and scalability in a larger trial is required.