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  • Author: Mark S. Tremblay x
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Joey C. Eisenmann, P.T. Katzmarzyk and Mark S. Tremblay

Background:

In recent years, it has been noted that children and youth are physically inactive, and physical activity levels have declined over the past decades. However, few empirical studies have been conducted to test this assumption. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine leisure-time physical activity levels among Canadian adolescents 12–19 years of age.

Methods:

Age, sex, geographic, and temporal trends in leisure-time physical activity energy expenditure (AEE) were examined using data from 5 national surveys conducted between 1981 and 1998. AEE was calculated from participants’ questionnaire responses on physical activity participation. General linear models were used to examine the differences in AEE across survey years, geographic regions, sexes, and age groups.

Results:

Males and 12–14-year-olds displayed greater AEE than females and 15–19-year-olds, respectively, and AEE was lowest in Quebec and highest in the West. AEE increased between the 1981 and 1988 surveys and has since remained relatively stable. The prevalence of subjects meeting the 12.6 kJ · kg−1 · d−1 (3 kcal · kg−1 · d−1) recommendation increased from 1981 to 1988. Since 1988, the prevalence of those meeting the 12.6 kJ · kg−1 · d−1 recommendation has decreased in 12–14 year old boys and remained relatively stable in the other groups. In 1998, about 45% of males and 35% of females met the 12.6 kJ · kg−1 · d−1 recommendation. In 1998, about 20% of 12–19-year-old males and 12–14-year-old females met the 25.1 kJ · kg−1 · d−1 (6 kcal · kg−1 · d−1) recommendation, while about 10% of 15–19-year-old females met this recommendation. In females, the prevalence of those meeting the 25.1 kJ · kg−1 · d−1 recommendation has remained relatively stable (about 10%) since 1981 except for an increase between 1996 and 1998 in 12–14-year-old girls. In males, a similar pattern, but not as dramatic, of that observed for the prevalence of those meeting the 12.6 kJ · kg−1 · d−1 emerged—that is, an increase between 1981 and 1988 and then a decrease in 12–14-year-old boys and a stable pattern in 15–19-year-old boys.

Conclusion:

Although self-reported leisure-time physical activity appears to have increased since 1981, a majority of Canadian adolescents do not meet current recommendations for physical activity.

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Jennifer L. Copeland, Samuel Y. Chu and Mark S. Tremblay

Women experience significant changes in endocrine function during aging. Decreasing levels of anabolic hormones may be associated with musculoskeletal atrophy and decrease in function that is observed in older women and, as a result, there has been an increase in the use of pharmacological hormone therapies. It is difficult to distinguish, however, between physiological changes that are truly age related and those that are associated with lifestyle factors such as physical activity participation. Some research has shown that circulating levels of anabolic hormones such as DHEA(S) and IGF-I in older women are related to physical activity, muscle function, and aerobic power. Exercise-intervention studies have generally shown that increasing age blunts the acute hormonal response to exercise, although this might be explained by a lower exercise intensity in older women. There have been relatively few studies that examine hormonal adaptations to exercise training. Physical activity might have an effect on hormone action as a result of changes in protein carriers and receptors, and future research needs to clarify the effect of age and exercise on these other components of the endocrine system. The value and safety of hormone supplements must be examined, especially when used in combination with an exercise program.

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Mark S. Tremblay, Joel D. Barnes and Jennifer Cowie Bonne

For 20 years Active Healthy Kids Canada (AHKC) has worked to inspire the country to engage all children and youth in physical activity (PA). The primary vehicle to achieve this is the AHKC Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, which has been released annually since 2005. Using 10 years of experience with this knowledge translation and synthesis mechanism, this paper aggregates and consolidates diverse evidence demonstrating the impact of the Report Card and related knowledge translation activities. Over the years many evaluations, consultations, assessments, and surveys have helped inform changes in the Report Card to improve its impact. Guided by a logic model, the various assessments have traversed areas related to distribution and reach, meeting stakeholder needs, use of the Report Card, its influence on policy, and advancing the mission of AHKC. In the past 10 years, the Report Card has achieved > 1 billion media impressions, distributed > 120,000 printed copies and > 200,000 electronic copies, and benefited from a collective ad value > $10 million. The Report Card has been replicated in 14 countries, 2 provinces, 1 state and 1 city. AHKC has received consistent positive feedback from stakeholders and endusers, who reported that the Report Card has been used for public awareness/education campaigns and advocacy strategies, to strengthen partnerships, to inform research and program design, and to advance and adjust policies and strategies. Collectively, the evidence suggests that the Report Card has been successful at powering the movement to get kids moving, and in achieving demonstrable success on immediate and intermediate outcomes, although the long-term goal of improving the PA of Canadian children and youth remains to be realized.

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John J. Reilly, Smita Dick, Geraldine McNeill and Mark S. Tremblay

Background:

The Active Healthy Kids Scotland Report Card aims to consolidate existing evidence, facilitate international comparisons, encourage more evidence-informed physical activity and health policy, and improve surveillance of physical activity.

Methods:

Application of the Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card process and methodology to Scotland, adapted to Scottish circumstances and availability of data.

Results:

The Active Healthy Kids Scotland Report Card 2013 consists of indicators of 7 Health Behaviors and Outcomes and 3 Influences on Health Behaviors and Outcomes. Grades of F were assigned to Overall Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior (recreational screen time), and Obesity Prevalence. A C was assigned to Active Transportation and a D- was assigned to Diet. Two indicators, Active and Outdoor Play and Organized Sport Participation, could not be graded. Among the Influences, Family Influence received a D, while Perceived Safety, Access, and Availability of Spaces for Physical Activity and the National Policy Environment graded more favorably with a B.

Conclusions:

The Active Healthy Kids Canada process and methodology was readily generalizable to Scotland. The report card illustrated low habitual physical activity and extremely high levels of screen-based sedentary behavior, and highlighted several opportunities for improved physical activity surveillance and promotion strategies.

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Jennifer L. Copeland, Kent C. Kowalski, Rachel M. Donen and Mark S. Tremblay

Background:

To accommodate the need for longitudinal physical activity research, we developed the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Adults (PAQ-AD). The PAQ-AD is an adult version of the PAQ-C and PAQ-A questionnaires which were developed for older children and adolescents, respectively.

Methods:

Two studies assessed the convergent validity of the PAQ-AD using a series of self-report tools and direct measurement of physical activity.

Results:

In the first sample (N = 247), the PAQ-AD was significantly related to a series of self-report tools (r = 0.53 to 0.64). In the second sample (N = 184), the PAQ-AD was significantly related to the self-report tools (r = 0.56 to 0.63), a physical activity recall interview (r = 0.24), and to direct measurements of physical activity (r = 0.26 to 0.43).

Conclusion:

These results provide preliminary validity evidence for the PAQ-AD and suggest the PAQ “family” of questionnaires might be advantageous for longitudinal research assessing physical activity from childhood to adulthood.

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Dale W. Esliger, Jennifer L. Copeland, Joel D. Barnes and Mark S. Tremblay

The unequivocal link between physical activity and health has prompted researchers and public health officials to search for valid, reliable, and logistically feasible tools to measure and quantify free-living physical activity. Accelerometers hold promise in this regard. Recent technological advances have led to decreases in both the size and cost of accelerometers while increasing functionality (e.g., greater memory, waterproofing). A lack of common data reduction and standardized reporting procedures dramatically limit their potential, however. The purpose of this article is to expand on the utility of accelerometers for measuring free-living physical activity. A detailed example profile of physical activity is presented to highlight the potential richness of accelerometer data. Specific recommendations for optimizing and standardizing the use of accelerometer data are provided with support from specific examples. This descriptive article is intended to advance and ignite scholarly dialogue and debate regarding accelerometer data capture, reduction, analysis, and reporting.

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Stella K. Muthuri, Lucy-Joy M. Wachira, Vincent O. Onywera and Mark S. Tremblay

Background:

A physical activity transition to declining activity levels, even among children, now poses a serious public health concern because of its contribution to a rising prevalence of noncommunicable diseases. Childhood physical activity levels are associated with parental perceptions of the neighborhood; however, these relationships have not been explored in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The objective was to investigate relationships between parental perceptions of the neighborhood and physical activity indicators among Kenyan children.

Methods:

Data were collected from children 9 to 11 years old in Nairobi as part of the International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle and Environment. Child physical activity was assessed by accelerometry, and information on obtaining sufficient physical activity, active transport, and parental perceptions of the neighborhood collected using questionnaires.

Results:

Of 563 participating children, 45.7%, 12.6%, and 11.4% used active school transportation, met physical activity guidelines, and were sufficiently active, respectively. Parental perception of positive neighborhood social cohesion, positive environs and connectivity, and negative child safety concerns, were associated with child physical activity outcomes.

Conclusions:

Aspects of parental perceptions of the neighborhood were associated with child physical activity outcomes and should be further explored to appropriately inform policy and practice in curbing declining physical activity levels among children in SSA.

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Mark S. Tremblay, Silvia A. Gonzalez, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Vincent O. Onywera and John. J. Reilly

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Lucy-Joy M. Wachira, Stella K. Muthuri, Mark S. Tremblay and Vincent O. Onywera

Background:

The report card presents available evidence on the physical activity (PA) and body weight status of Kenyan children and youth. It highlights areas where Kenya is succeeding and those in which more action is needed.

Methods:

Comprehensive review and analysis of available data on core indicators for Kenyan children and youth 5−17 years were conducted. The grading system used was based on a set of specific criteria and existing grading schemes from similar report cards in other countries.

Results:

Of the 10 core indicators discussed, body composition was favorable (grade B) while overall PA levels, organized sport participation, and active play were assigned grades of C. Active transportation and sedentary behaviors were also favorable (grade B). Family/peers, school, governmental and nongovernmental strategies were graded C.

Conclusions:

The majority of Kenyan children and youth have healthy body composition levels and acceptable sedentary time, but are not doing as well in attaining the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation on PA. Although Kenya seems to be doing well in most indicators compared with some developed countries, there is a need for action to address existing trends toward unhealthy lifestyles. More robust and representative data for all indicators are required.