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Valerie Carson


The purpose of this study was to examine cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between parental support and children’s physical activity outside of child care, and whether children’s age or sex moderated the associations.


Results are based on 93 children aged 19 to 60 months at baseline from 8 child care centers across Alberta, Canada. Parental support (ie, transportation, coactivity, watching, encouragement, and informing) and children’s physical activity outside of child care were measured with a parental questionnaire at baseline (October/November 2013) and follow-up (May/June 2014).


Every additional unit increase in parental support was significantly associated with 48.5 minutes/week [95% Confidence Interval (CI): 29.3–67.6] and 52.2 (95% CI: 32.0–72.3) minutes/week higher parental reported children’s physical activity outside of child care at baseline and follow-up, respectively. A 1-unit increase in parental support from baseline to follow-up was significantly associated with a 24.8 (95% CI: 2.8–46.8) minutes/week increase in parental reported children’s physical activity outside of child care. Children’s age was a moderator at baseline only.


Parental support was positively associated with children’s physical activity across all analyses. Parental support may be an important correlate to target in future interventions aiming to promote physical activity in the early years.

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Valerie Carson and John C. Spence

The purpose of this review was to examine seasonal variation in physical activity among children and adolescents. Searches were conducted of electronic databases for studies on seasonal differences in physical activity levels. A total of 35 studies, including children and adolescents between the ages of 2–19 years, were reviewed. Overall, 83% (29/35) of the studies found seasonal variation in physical activity among children and/or adolescents. The results were consistent regardless of the region, physical activity measure, or the study design but the findings were inconsistent across age categories.

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Valerie Carson, Michelle Stone and Guy Faulkner

To make robust conclusions regarding the association between accelerometer-measured sedentary time and overweight and obesity among children, several gaps in the literature must be addressed. The purpose of this study was to examine associations between sedentary time, weekday sedentary time, weekend sedentary time, sedentary bouts, sedentary breaks, and BMI z-score among children and by low (bottom 50%) and high (top 50%) moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) participation. Results are based on 787 children aged 11 years living in Toronto, Canada. Children’s physical activity and sedentary time were objectively assessed using ActiGraph accelerometers in 2010/11. Height and weight were measured and BMI z-scores were calculated based on the World Health Organization growth standards. When participants were stratified into low and high MVPA groups, sedentary bouts of 5–9 (β = 0.22 [95% CI: 0.01, 0.43]) and 10–19 (0.30 [−0.05, 0.55]) minutes for total days were associated with BMI z-score in the low MVPA group only. Similar trends were observed with the weekday but not the weekend variables. Therefore, in addition to increasing MVPA, reducing time spent in 5- to 19-min sedentary bouts may have important implications for weight status particularly for children with lower MVPA participation during the week.

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Valerie Carson, Jodie Stearns and Ian Janssen

The main purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between parental and children’s physical activity and screen time behaviors in a large sample of children in the early years. The results are based on 738 children aged 0–5 years and their parents from the Kingston, Canada area. Parents completed a questionnaire from May to September 2011 that assessed sociodemographic characteristics, their physical activity and screen time, and their child’s physical activity and screen time. Logistic regression models, adjusted for potential confounders, were conducted. Parents in the lowest quartile of physical activity were 2.77 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.68–4.57) times more likely to have a child in the lowest quartile of physical activity compared with parents in the highest quartile of physical activity. Relationships were stronger in two parent homes compared with single-parent homes. Parents in the second (odds ratio = 2.27, 95% CI: 1.36–3.78), third (2.30, 1.32–3.99), and fourth (7.47, 4.53–12.33) screen time quartiles were significantly more likely to have a child in the highest quartile of screen time compared with parents in quartile one. To optimize healthy growth and development in the early years, future family-centered interventions targeting both physical activity and screen time appear important.

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Valerie Carson, Amanda E. Staiano and Peter T. Katzmarzyk

The purpose of this study was to describe self-reported levels of sitting, moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA), television viewing, and computer use in a representative sample of US adolescents and to make comparisons between sex, race/ethnicity, weight status, and age groups. Results are based on 3556 adolescents aged 12-19 years from the 2007-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants self-reported demographic, sitting, MVPA, television viewing (2011-2012 only) and computer use (2011-2012 only) variables. Height and weight were measured to calculate body mass index. On average, 7.5 hr/day were spent sitting and 34 median min/day were spent participating in MVPA, with females sitting more and participating in less MVPA than males across most demographic groups. Furthermore, obese males sat more and participated in less MVPA than nonoverweight males. Non-Hispanic white females participated in more MVPA than females in all other race/ethnicity groups. For television and computer, 38% and 22% of the sample engaged in >2 hr/day, respectively, and several race/ethnicity differences were observed. This study provides the first U.S. adolescent population estimates on self-reported sitting and updates population estimates on self-reported MVPA, television viewing and computer use. Continued efforts are needed to promote healthy active lifestyles in American adolescents.

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Morgan Potter, John C. Spence, Normand Boulé, Jodie A. Stearns and Valerie Carson

Purpose: Understanding the correlates of children’s fitness as they develop is needed. The objectives of this study were to 1) examine the longitudinal associations between physical activity (PA), screen time (ST), and fitness; 2) determine if sex moderates associations; and 3) track PA and ST over 3 years. Methods: Findings are based on 649 children [baseline = 4.5 (0.5) y; follow-up = 7.8 (0.6) y] from Edmonton, Canada. Parental-reported hour per week of PA and ST were measured at baseline and 3 years later. Fitness (vertical jump, sit and reach, waist circumference, grip strength, predicted VO2max, push-ups, and partial curl-ups) was measured using established protocols at follow-up. Sex-specific z scores or low/high fitness groups were calculated. Linear or logistic multiple regression models and Spearman correlations were conducted. Results: Baseline ST was negatively associated with follow-up grip strength [β = −0.010; 95% confidence interval (CI), −0.019 to −0.001]. Associations between baseline PA and follow-up overall fitness (β = 0.009; 95% CI, 0.002 to 0.016) were significant, whereas baseline PA and follow-up VO2max (β = 0.014; 95% CI, 0.000 to 0.027) approached significance (P < .06). No sex interactions were observed. Moderate and large tracking were observed for PA (r s = .30) and ST (r s = .53), respectively. Conclusions: PA and ST may be important modifiable correlates of overall fitness in young children.

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Stephen Hunter, Valerie Carson, Anna Timperio, Jo Salmon, Alison Carver and Jenny Veitch

Background: Increased physical inactivity and sedentary behavior among children are a global health concern. Purpose: Examine associations between parents’ perceived neighborhood environment and children’s physical activity, outside time, and screen time, and whether these associations were moderated by age and socioeconomic position (SEP). Methods: Parents (N = 1212) completed a survey during the Recording and EValuating Activity in a Modified Park study. The neighborhood perceptions (social and physical environment), children’s age, physical activity, outside time, and screen time were parent-reported. The SEP was derived from the Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage. Multiple linear and logistic regressions were performed with age and SEP interactions. Results: Favorable perceptions of opportunities to be active and exercise were associated with a higher likelihood of meeting physical activity guidelines. Favorable perceptions of neighborhood ease for walking and a larger social network were also associated with more outdoor time. Moderation analyses revealed that favorable perceptions of several physical and social neighborhood environment features were associated with a higher likelihood of meeting physical activity guidelines in the high-SEP group and were negatively associated with preschoolers’ weekday screen time. Conclusion: Future neighborhood environment initiatives and interventions aiming to promote active living communities should consider differences in age and SEP.

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Stephen Hunter, Andrei Rosu, Kylie D. Hesketh, Ryan E. Rhodes, Christina M. Rinaldi, Wendy Rodgers, John C. Spence and Valerie Carson

Purpose: Examine objectively measured environmental correlates of physical activity and sedentary behavior in toddlers (12–35 mo). Methods: Participants were recruited at immunization appointments in Edmonton, Canada. Physical activity and sedentary time were objectively measured via accelerometers (n = 149). The parents reported screen time and demographic characteristics via a questionnaire (n = 249). Postal codes were used to link neighborhood data via geographic information systems. Neighborhood data included 4 environmental domains: functional (ie, walkability), safety (ie, crime), esthetic (ie, tree density), and destination (ie, cul-de-sac density, wooded area percentage, green space percentage, recreation density, park density). Weather data (temperature and precipitation) were obtained via historical weather records. Multilevel multiple linear regression models were used to account for clustering of participants within neighborhoods and adjustment of demographic variables. Results: Each additional 10°C of mean temperature was significantly associated with 5.74 (95% confidence interval, 0.96–10.50) minutes per day of higher light-intensity physical activity, though the effect size was small (f 2 = 0.08). No other significant associations were observed. Conclusions: The lack of significant findings for neighborhood environment factors suggests proximal factors (eg, features of the home environment) may be more important in predicting toddlers’ physical activity and sedentary behavior. More indoor physical activity opportunities may be needed on colder days for toddlers.

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Jennifer McConnell-Nzunga, Katie A. Weatherson, Louise Masse, Valerie Carson, Guy Faulkner, Erica Lau, Heather McKay, Viviene Temple, Luke Wolfenden and Patti J. Naylor

Background: Physical activity (PA) is critical to early child development, and child care is a key setting for promotion. The authors investigated differences in daily PA and sedentary behavior practices as well as physical environments between family child care (FCC) and group child care (GCC) settings for children aged 3–5 years in Canada. Methods: Group child care (n = 581) and FCC (n = 357) managers completed surveys assessing the implementation of PA promoting practices and description of their environments. Crosstabulation and chi-square tests of association were used to examine differences between GCC and FCC. Results: The prevalence of facilities implementing 120 minutes of active play (odds ratio [OR] 2.23; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.58–3.15), <30 minutes on screens (OR 1.35; 95% CI, 1.02–1.80), and 60-minute outdoors daily (OR 1.99; 95% CI, 1.4–2.9) was more likely in FCC compared with GCC. However, implementation of fundamental movement skill activities (OR 1.40; 95% CI, 1.01–1.92), breaking up prolonged sitting (OR 1.86; 95% CI, 1.36–2.5), and outdoor space for large group running games (OR 1.74; 95% CI, 1.07–2.83) were more likely in GCC. Conclusions: Child care setting was associated with daily PA and sedentary practices and outdoor space for PA. Interventions to support PA in child care should be tailored to different settings and the facilitators explored.

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Joel D. Barnes, Christine Cameron, Valerie Carson, Jean-Philippe Chaput, Rachel C. Colley, Guy E.J. Faulkner, Ian Janssen, Roger Kramers, Travis J. Saunders, John C. Spence, Patricia Tucker, Leigh M. Vanderloo and Mark S. Tremblay