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Ross Tucker, Vincent O. Onywera, and Jordan Santos-Concejero

Purpose:

To investigate the ethnicity of Kenya’s most successful international runners, tracking their evolution over the period of their international emergence and current dominance.

Methods:

The authors analyzed male track distance events from 800m upwards from all the major global athletics championships from 1964 to 2013, and the annual Top-25 world marathon performances since 1990.

Results:

The percentage of top-25 marathon performances and medals won by Kenyan and Kalenjin runners have increased over time with Nandi subtribe outperforming the rest of the world outside Africa (r > .70, large effect). However, Europe, North America, Oceania, Asia, and South America decreased over time in top marathon performances and track medals won (r > .70, large effect). The tribe and subtribe distribution was different in the marathon than in the track: Maasais were more likely to feature in medals won in shorter track events than in the top 25 of the world marathon rankings (risk ratio [RR] = 9.67, very large effect). This was also the case for Marakwets (RR = 6.44, very large effect) and Pokots (RR = 4.83, large effect). On the other hand, Keiyos, Kikuyus, Kipsigis, Sabaots, and Tugens were more likely to succeed in the marathon than in shorter track events (RR > 2.0, moderate effect).

Conclusion:

These data emphasize that the previously documented emergence of African distance runners is primarily a Kenyan phenomenon, driven by the Kalenjin tribe and in particular the Nandi subtribe. This supports the complex interaction between genotype, phenotype, and socioeconomic factors driving the remarkable dominance of Kenyan distance runners.

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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.

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

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Vincent Ochieng Onywera, Kristi B. Adamo, Andrew W. Sheel, Judith N. Waudo, Michael Kipsugut Boit, and Mark S. Tremblay

Background:

Comparable data to examine the physical activity (PA) transition in African countries such as Kenya are lacking.

Methods:

We assessed PA levels from urban (UKEN) and rural (RKEN) environments to examine any evidence of a PA transition. Nine- to twelve-year-old children participated in the study: n = 96 and n = 73 children from UKEN and RKEN, respectively. Pedometers were used to estimate children’s daily step count. Parental perception regarding their child’s PA patterns was collected via questionnaire (n = 172).

Results:

RKEN children were more physically active than their UKEN counterparts with a mean average steps per day (± SE) of 14,700 ± 521 vs. 11,717 ± 561 (P < .0001) for RKEN vs. UKEN children respectively. 62.5% of the UKEN children spent 0 hours per week playing screen games compared with 13.1% of UKEN children who spent more than 11 hours per week playing screen games. Seventy percent of UKEN and 34% of RKEN parents reported being more active during childhood than their children respectively.

Conclusions:

Results of this study are indicative of a PA transition in Kenya. Further research is needed to gather national data on the PA patterns of Kenyan children to minimize the likelihood of a public health problem due to physical inactivity.

Open access

Vincent O. Onywera, Stella K. Muthuri, Sylvester Hayker, Lucy-Joy M. Wachira, Florence Kyallo, Robert O. Mang’eni, Peter Bukhala, and Caleb Mireri

Background:

Kenya’s 2016 report card aimed to highlight the health and well-being of Kenyan children and youth using the best available evidence on the physical activity of Kenyan children and youth. The report pointed at areas where Kenya was succeeding and areas where more action is required.

Methods:

Inclusive analyses of available data sources on the core indicators related to physical activity and body weights of Kenyan children and youth (5 to 17 years) were conducted. These were assigned grades based on a set of specific criteria.

Results:

Results show that Active Play, Active Transportation, Overweight and Obesity, and Sedentary Behavior were favorable with a grade of B. Overall Physical Activity, Organized Sport Participation, and School (infrastructure, policies, and programs) each received a grade of C, while Family and Peers, Government and Nongovernment organizations, as well as the Community and the Built Environment were assigned grade D.

Conclusions:

Over 72% of Kenyan children and youth use active transportation to and from school and in their daily lives. Although majority of the children and youth have normal body weight, there is need to ensure that they meet and maintain the physical activity levels recommended by the World Health Organization. More needs to be done especially in relation to the governmental and nongovernmental organizations, organized sports participation, as well as involvement of family and peers in promoting healthy active lifestyles among Kenyan children and youth. More representative data for all indicators are required in Kenya.

Open access

Mark S. Tremblay, Joel D. Barnes, Silvia A. González, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Vincent O. Onywera, John J. Reilly, Grant R. Tomkinson, and the Global Matrix 2.0 Research Team

The Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance organized the concurrent preparation of Report Cards on the physical activity of children and youth in 38 countries from 6 continents (representing 60% of the world’s population). Nine common indicators were used (Overall Physical Activity, Organized Sport Participation, Active Play, Active Transportation, Sedentary Behavior, Family and Peers, School, Community and the Built Environment, and Government Strategies and Investments), and all Report Cards were generated through a harmonized development process and a standardized grading framework (from A = excellent, to F = failing). The 38 Report Cards were presented at the International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health in Bangkok, Thailand on November 16, 2016. The consolidated findings are summarized in the form of a Global Matrix demonstrating substantial variation in grades both within and across countries. Countries that lead in certain indicators often lag in others. Average grades for both Overall Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior around the world are D (low/poor). In contrast, the average grade for indicators related to supports for physical activity was C. Lower-income countries generally had better grades on Overall Physical Activity, Active Transportation, and Sedentary Behaviors compared with higher-income countries, yet worse grades for supports from Family and Peers, Community and the Built Environment, and Government Strategies and Investments. Average grades for all indicators combined were highest (best) in Denmark, Slovenia, and the Netherlands. Many surveillance and research gaps were apparent, especially for the Active Play and Family and Peers indicators. International cooperation and cross-fertilization is encouraged to address existing challenges, understand underlying determinants, conceive innovative solutions, and mitigate the global childhood inactivity crisis. The paradox of higher physical activity and lower sedentary behavior in countries reporting poorer infrastructure, and lower physical activity and higher sedentary behavior in countries reporting better infrastructure, suggests that autonomy to play, travel, or chore requirements and/or fewer attractive sedentary pursuits, rather than infrastructure and structured activities, may facilitate higher levels of physical activity.

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Tiago V. Barreira, Stephanie T. Broyles, Catrine Tudor-Locke, Jean-Philippe Chaput, Mikael Fogelholm, Gang Hu, Rebecca Kuriyan, Estelle V. Lambert, Carol A. Maher, José A. Maia, Timothy Olds, Vincent Onywera, Olga L. Sarmiento, Martyn Standage, Mark S. Tremblay, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, and for the ISCOLE Research Group

Background: To determine if children’s moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary time varied across levels of household income in countries at different levels of Human Development Index (HDI), consistent with the theory of epidemiological transition. Methods: Data from 6548 children (55% girls) aged 9–11 years from 12 countries at different HDI levels are used in this analysis to assess MVPA and sedentary time (measured using ActiGraph accelerometers) across levels of household income. Least-square means are estimated separately for boys and girls at the estimated 10th, 50th, and 90th percentiles of HDI for the sample. Results: For boys, time in MVPA is negatively associated with income at the 10th and 50th percentiles of HDI (both P < .002). For girls, time in MVPA is negatively associated with income at the 10th and 50th percentiles of HDI (all P < .01) and positively related with income at the 90th percentile (P = .04). Sedentary time is positively associated with income at the 10th percentile of HDI for boys (P = .03), but not for girls. Conclusions: Results support the possibility of an epidemiological transition in physical activity, with lower levels of MVPA observed at opposite levels of income depending on the HDI percentile. This phenomenon was not observed for sedentary time.

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Richard Larouche, Emily F. Mire, Kevin Belanger, Tiago V. Barreira, Jean-Philippe Chaput, Mikael Fogelholm, Gang Hu, Estelle V. Lambert, Carol Maher, José Maia, Tim Olds, Vincent Onywera, Olga L. Sarmiento, Martyn Standage, Catrine Tudor-Locke, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Mark S. Tremblay, and For the ISCOLE Research Group

Purpose: This study investigated the relationship between outdoor time and physical activity (PA), sedentary time (SED), and body mass index z scores among children from 12 lower-middle-income, upper-middle-income, and high-income countries. Methods: In total, 6478 children (54.4% girls) aged 9–11 years participated. Outdoor time was self-reported, PA and SED were assessed with ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometers, and height and weight were measured. Data on parental education, neighborhood collective efficacy, and accessibility to neighborhood recreation facilities were collected from parent questionnaires. Country latitude and climate statistics were collected through national weather data sources. Gender-stratified multilevel models with parental education, climate, and neighborhood variables as covariates were used to examine the relationship between outdoor time, accelerometry measures, and body mass index z scores. Results: Each additional hour per day spent outdoors was associated with higher moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA (boys: +2.8 min/d; girls: +1.4 min/d), higher light-intensity PA (boys: +2.0 min/d; girls: +2.3 min/d), and lower SED (boys: −6.3 min/d; girls: −5.1 min/d). Effect sizes were generally weaker in lower-middle-income countries. Outdoor time was not associated with body mass index z scores. Conclusions: Outdoor time was associated with higher PA and lower SED independent of climate, parental education, and neighborhood variables, but effect sizes were small. However, more research is needed in low- and middle-income countries.