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Douglas E. Long, Lisa M. Gaetke, Stephen D. Perry, Mark G. Abel and Jody L. Clasey

The purpose of this study was to descriptively compare the physical activity and dietary intake of public school (PSC) versus home schooled children (HSC). Potential parental and home influences were also examined. Thirty six matched pairs of public school-home school children aged 7–11 years participated in this study. Each participant wore an activity monitor and recorded their dietary intake concurrently for seven consecutive days. PSC had significantly more total and weekday steps, and spent more time in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity compared with HSC. There were no differences in dietary intake between the two groups. These results suggest differences in physical activity between PSC and HSC and encourage further study of public and home school environments, in relation to the obesity epidemic.

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Sarah A. Doolittle, Paul B. Rukavina, Weidong Li, Mara Manson and Angela Beale

Using the Social Ecological Constraints model, a qualitative multiple case study design was used to explore experienced and committed middle school physical education teachers’ perspectives on overweight and obese students (OWS), and how and why they acted to include OWS in physical education and physical activity opportunities in their school environments. Three themes emerged. 1) OWS are “the same, but different.” Teachers attempted to treat all students the same, but perceived variations among OWS’ participation in PE and related individual constraints. 2) Teachers’ concerns lead to individual goals and specific actions. Teachers identified specific goals and approaches to help individual OWS who needed extra attention. 3) OWS are a responsibility and challenge. Many of these teachers felt a responsibility to devote extra time and effort to help struggling OWS to succeed. These teachers avoided obesity bias, and exhibited beliefs and actions similar to a caring perspective.

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Cindy Rutten, Filip Boen, Nathalie Vissers and Jan Seghers

Based on Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000), this study tested whether changes in autonomous motivation toward physical education (AMPE) during the transition from elementary to secondary school can be predicted by changes in perceived need support from the physical education (PE) teacher and perceived physical school environment. Self-reported data were gathered from 472 Flemish (northern part of Belgium) students in 6th grade (2009) and again in 8th grade (2011). Mediation analyses showed that an increase in perceived need support from the PE teacher was related to an increase in AMPE (boys: β = .42; girls: β = .50). In boys, this relation was mediated by changes in perceived competence (β = .08). In girls, this relation was mediated by changes in perceived autonomy (β = .12), perceived competence (β = .14), and perceived relatedness (β = .05). This study shows that PE teachers should be need-supportive to maintain a good quality of motivation in students.

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Erica Thomas and Dominic Upton

Background:

Physical activity determinant studies now often include both environmental and sociocognitive factors but few of them acknowledge and explore the mechanisms underlying relevant environmental influences. This study explored environmental correlates of children’s self-reported physical activity and potential mediation through the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and habit strength.

Methods:

Six hundred and twenty-one pupils aged 9–11 years were recruited from 4 primary schools in the UK. TPB variables, habit strength and environmental variables were assessed at baseline. Self-reported physical activity was assessed 1 week later.

Results:

Mediation tests revealed that 43% of the association between convenient facilities and intention was mediated through subjective norms (17%) and habit (26%), while 15% of the association between convenient facilities and physical activity was mediated through habit strength alone. A significant direct effect of convenient facilities and resources in the home environment on physical activity was also found. The school environment was not significantly related to children’s physical activity intentions or behavior.

Conclusion:

The results suggest that the environment influences children’s physical activity both directly and indirectly and that habit strength seems to be the most important mediator for this association.

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Michael B. Edwards, Michael A. Kanters and Jason N. Bocarro

Background:

This study’s purpose was to assess the opportunities for North Carolina adolescents to be physically active in extracurricular middle school environments and to compare opportunities across community types.

Methods:

Data were analyzed based on the results of an electronic questionnaire distributed to a sample of 431 schools with a response rate of 75.4% (N = 325).

Results:

Nearly all schools offered interscholastic sports while fewer than half offered intramurals or noncompetitive activities to students. “Open gym” was offered at only 35% of schools, while 24% of schools offered extracurricular activities to students with disabilities. Overall, 43.4% of schools offered special transportation to students who participated in some extracurricular physical activities. Schools in rural areas generally offered fewer programs and had fewer supports than schools located in more urbanized areas. Over two-thirds of rural schools offered no extracurricular programs other than interscholastic sports.

Conclusions:

Schools can be important settings for physical activity. North Carolina’s middle schools and its rural schools in particular, are falling short in efforts to provide extracurricular physical activity programming recommended by researchers and policy groups.1−6 Lower accessibility to extracurricular physical activities may partially contribute to higher levels of physical inactivity found in the state.

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Christina M. Thornton, Kelli L. Cain, Terry L. Conway, Jacqueline Kerr, Brian E. Saelens, Lawrence D. Frank, Karen Glanz and James F. Sallis

Background:

The after-school period provides an opportune context for adolescent physical activity. This study examined how characteristics of after-school recreation environments related to adolescent physical activity.

Methods:

Participants were 889 adolescents aged 12 to 17 (mean = 14.1, SD = 1.4) from 2 US regions. Adolescents reported on whether their school offered after-school supervised physical activity, access to play areas/fields, and presence of sports facilities. Outcomes were accelerometer-measured after-school physical activity, reported physical activity on school grounds during nonschool hours, attainment of 60 minutes of daily physical activity excluding school physical education, and BMI-for-age z-score. Mixed regression models adjusted for study design, region, sex, age, ethnicity, vehicles/licensed drivers in household, and distance to school.

Results:

School environment variables were all significantly associated with self-reported physical activity on school grounds during non-school hours (P < .001) and attainment of 60 minutes of daily physical activity (P < .05). Adolescents’ accelerometer-measured after-school physical activity was most strongly associated with access to supervised physical activity (P = .008).

Conclusions:

Policies and programs that provide supervised after-school physical activity and access to play areas, fields, and sports facilities may help adolescents achieve daily physical activity recommendations.

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Andreia Nogueira Pizarro, Jasper Schipperijn, José Carlos Ribeiro, António Figueiredo, Jorge Mota and Maria Paula Santos

Background:

Identifying where children spend their activity-time may help define relevant domains for effective PA promotion and better understand the relation between PA and environment. Our study aimed to identify how boys and girls allocate their active time in the different domains.

Methods:

374 children (201 girls; mean age = 11.7 years) wore an accelerometer and a GPS for 7 days. PALMS software combined data, categorized nonsedentary time and bouts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Geographical information system allocated activity into 4 domains: school, leisure, transport and home.

Results:

Overall, a higher proportion of time in MVPA was found in the transport domain (45.5%), school (30.5%), leisure (21.3%), and home (2.7%). Gender differences were found for the proportion of time spent across domains. Girls (54.5%) had more MVPA than boys (35.2%) in the transport domain, whereas boys spent more MVPA time in school (37.0%) and leisure (24.9%) than girls (24.7% and 18.1, respectively).

Conclusions:

Interventions to increase transport behavior may be relevant for children’s MVPA. School is an important domain for boys PA, while for girls increasing the supportiveness of the school environment for PA should be a priority. Strategies should consider gender differences when targeting each domain.

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Ralph Maddison, Leila Pfaeffli Dale, Samantha Marsh, Allana G. LeBlanc and Melody Oliver

Background:

This brief report provides grades for the 2014 New Zealand Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. The Report Card presents a review of current evidence across 9 key indicators, including physical activity (PA), organized sport and free play, sedentary behavior, and community and government initiatives across New Zealand.

Methods:

Nationally representative survey data were collated by researchers at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, between June and December 2013. The grade for each indicator is based on the percentage of children and youth meeting a defined benchmark: A is 81%−100%; B is 61%−80%; C is 41%−60%, D is 21%−40%; F is 0%−20%; INC is incomplete data.

Results:

Overall PA received a score of B, as did Organized Sport Participation and Active Play. PA participation in School Environment scored slightly less with a score of B-. Sedentary Behaviors, Family and Peers, and Community and Built Environment scored a grade of C. Active transportation received a score of C-. An inconclusive grade was given for the Government indicator due to a lack of established international criteria for assessment.

Conclusions:

PA participation in New Zealand is satisfactory, but could improve. However, sedentary behavior is high. Of particular concern is the age-related decline in PA participation, particularly among adolescent females, and the increase in sedentary behavior.

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Anthony Barnett, Lawrence Y.S. Chan and Lain C. Bruce

The purpose of the present study was to determine the validity of the 20-meter multistage shuttle run (MSR) for predicting peak VO2 in Hong Kong Chinese students, ages 12–17 years. Fifty-five subjects, 27 boys and 28 girls, performed the MSR in the school environment and had peak VO2 determined in the laboratory. A correlation of 0.72 (p<0.001) was found between peak VO2 and predicted peak VO2 using an equation previously developed with Canadian children (6). However, maximal shuttle run speed alone was a better predictor in this group (r=0.74, SEE=4.6 ml · kg−1·min−1, p<.001). Multiple-regression analysis (best-subsets) was performed and the best predictor variables were maximal speed and sex with either triceps skinfold or weight. For practical application in the school setting, the equation peak VO2 = 24.2 − 5.0(sex) − 0.8(age) + 3.4(maximal speed) (r=0.82, SEE=4.0), where for sex, male = 0 and female = 1, is suggested.

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Valter C. Barbosa Filho, Kelly Samara da Silva, Jorge Mota, Carmem Beck and Adair da Silva Lopes

Background:

Promoting physical activity (PA) in low- and middle-income countries is an important public health topic as well as a challenge for practice. This study aimed to assess the effect of a school-based intervention on different PA-related variables among students.

Methods:

This cluster-randomized-controlled trial included 548 students in the intervention group and 537 in the control group (11–18 years-old) from 6 schools in neighborhoods with low Human Development Index (0.170–0.491) in Fortaleza, Brazil. The intervention included strategies focused on training teachers, opportunities for PA in the school environment and health education. Variables measured at baseline and again at the 4-months follow-up included the weekly time in different types of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), preference for PA during leisure-time, PA behavioral change stage and active commuting to school. Generalized linear models and binary logistic regressions were used.

Results:

An intervention effect was found by increasing the weekly time in MVPA (effect size = 0.17), popular games (effect size = 0.35), and the amount of PA per week (effect size = 0.27) among students (all P < .05).

Conclusions:

The intervention was effective in promoting improvements in some PA outcomes, but the changes were not sufficient to increase the proportion of those meeting PA recommendations.