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  • Author: Lina Engelen x
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Jamie Lau, Lina Engelen and Anita Bundy

Background:

After-school hours provide an opportunity for physical activity (PA). Parental perceptions influence children’s PA. The aims were to: compare parents’ perceptions of children’s PA with objectively measured PA; shed light on PA during after-school hours; and compare two electronic devices for collecting data.

Methods:

Twenty parent-child dyads participated. Children (5–7 years, mean 6.25 ± 0.64) wore Actical accelerometers; their parents responded to activity diaries on electronic devices. Data were collected twice for 4 consecutive weekday afternoons (15.30–19.00).

Results:

While parents perceived their children to be quite active, children were, in fact, largely inactive. Parents’ responses compared with accelerometer data yielded moderate correlations (r = .44, p < .01). Two thirds of parents’ responses were overestimations. Boys were physically more active than girls and had higher PA outdoors than indoors. Girls’ PA remained similar indoors and outdoors but parents did not perceive the similarity. Both electronic devices produced similar results and compliance rates.

Conclusion:

Parents consistently over-reported their children’s PA. Findings have implications for initiatives to increase PA. If parents perceive their children as very active, they may lack motivation to promote PA. Parents’ limitations as proxy reporters aside, the similarity of results yielded by the two electronic devices suggests that the choice is a matter of researcher preference.

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Lina Engelen, Anita C Bundy, Jamie Lau, Geraldine Naughton, Shirley Wyver, Adrian Bauman and Louise Baur

Background:

To promote healthy lifestyles, we need to understand more about the patterns of children’s activities after school.

Methods:

Twenty 5- to 7-year-old children and their parents participated in this study. Parents used ‘real-time’ diaries to report children’s activities and contextual information at 3 randomly selected times per day, over 4 week days. Reporting was repeated after 13 weeks. Simultaneously children wore Actical accelerometers.

Results:

Approximately 300 simultaneous accelerometer measurements and diary entries were compared. Mean physical activity levels were highest when children engaged in activities generally considered as “active” and lowest for doing “nothing.” However, the range within activities was very large; some children who reported TV/screen time accumulated high accelerometry counts and conversely, some children were practically sedentary during organized sports. Children spent most (78%) of their after school time indoors, but the children were significantly more active outdoors than indoors [t(74.8) = 5.0, P < .001].

Conclusions:

Accelerometer data in conjunction with real-time diaries provide a more complete understanding of the value of outdoor play in increasing movement opportunities for children’s after school activities.

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Lina Engelen, Anita C Bundy, Adrian Bauman, Geraldine Naughton, Shirley Wyver and Louise Baur

Background:

Children can spend substantial amounts of leisure time in sedentary activities, dominated by TV/screen time. However, objective real-time measurement of activities after school among young school children is seldom described.

Methods:

School children (n = 246, 5−7 years old, mean 6.0) and their parents were recruited by random selection from 14 schools across Sydney, Australia. Parents used a real-time objective measure (Experience Sampling Method, ESM) to record children’s activities and whether they were indoors or outdoors at 3 random times each day after school. Data were collected across 4 weekdays in 1 week and then, 13 weeks later, another 4 weekdays in 1 week.

Results:

Results were based on 2940 responses from 214 childparent dyads showed that 25% of behavior involved physical activity, 51% was spent in sedentary activities, and 22% was TV/ screen time. Most instances (81%) occurred indoors.

Conclusion:

Despite a high proportion of TV/screen time, children were also engaged in a range of other sedentary and physically active pursuits after school. Hence TV/screen time is not a suitable proxy for all sedentary behavior, and it is important to gather information on other non–screen-based sedentary and physically active behaviors. Future research is warranted to further investigate after-school activities in young primary school children.

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Leon Straker, Erin Kaye Howie, Dylan Paul Cliff, Melanie T. Davern, Lina Engelen, Sjaan R. Gomersall, Jenny Ziviani, Natasha K. Schranz, Tim Olds and Grant Ryan Tomkinson

Background:

Australia has joined a growing number of nations that have evaluated the physical activity and sedentary behavior status of their children. Australia received a “D minus” in the first Active Healthy Kids Australia Physical Activity Report Card.

Methods:

An expert subgroup of the Australian Report Card Research Working Group iteratively reviewed available evidence to answer 3 questions: (a) What are the main sedentary behaviors of children? (b) What are the potential mechanisms for sedentary behavior to impact child health and development? and (c) What are the effects of different types of sedentary behaviors on child health and development?

Results:

Neither sedentary time nor screen time is a homogeneous activity likely to result in homogenous effects. There are several mechanisms by which various sedentary behaviors may positively or negatively affect cardiometabolic, neuromusculoskeletal, and psychosocial health, though the strength of evidence varies. National surveillance systems and mechanistic, longitudinal, and experimental studies are needed for Australia and other nations to improve their grade.

Conclusions:

Despite limitations, available evidence is sufficiently convincing that the total exposure and pattern of exposure to sedentary behaviors are critical to the healthy growth, development, and wellbeing of children. Nations therefore need strategies to address these common behaviors.

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Natasha Schranz, Tim Olds, Dylan Cliff, Melanie Davern, Lina Engelen, Billie Giles-Corti, Sjaan Gomersall, Louise Hardy, Kylie Hesketh, Andrew Hills, David Lubans, Doune Macdonald, Rona Macniven, Philip Morgan, Tony Okely, Anne-Maree Parish, Ron Plotnikoff, Trevor Shilton, Leon Straker, Anna Timperio, Stewart Trost, Stewart Vella, Jenny Ziviani and Grant Tomkinson

Background:

Like many other countries, Australia is facing an inactivity epidemic. The purpose of the Australian 2014 Physical Activity Report Card initiative was to assess the behaviors, settings, and sources of influences and strategies and investments associated with the physical activity levels of Australian children and youth.

Methods:

A Research Working Group (RWG) drawn from experts around Australia collaborated to determine key indicators, assess available datasets, and the metrics which should be used to inform grades for each indicator and factors to consider when weighting the data. The RWG then met to evaluate the synthesized data to assign a grade to each indicator.

Results:

Overall Physical Activity Levels were assigned a grade of D-. Other physical activity behaviors were also graded as less than average (D to D-), while Organized Sport and Physical Activity Participation was assigned a grade of B-. The nation performed better for settings and sources of influence and Government Strategies and Investments (A- to a C). Four incompletes were assigned due to a lack of representative quality data.

Conclusions:

Evidence suggests that physical activity levels of Australian children remain very low, despite moderately supportive social, environmental and regulatory environments. There are clear gaps in the research which need to be filled and consistent data collection methods need to be put into place.