Physical activity and obesity among Year 7 children in Kent, U.K: Gender, social background, reasons for being active and implications for school health promotion

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Izaki, Tokie ; Swaine, Ian (2017)

Aims\ud This study explored to what extent level of physical activity (PA) and obesity are associated with gender and socio-economic status (SES) among Year 7 children. Furthermore, we wanted to gain insight into the most common reasons for being physically active in these children.\ud \ud Methods\ud 678 children were recruited from five secondary schools in Kent, U.K (Boys=397, Girls=281). The mean age was 11.34. To gather information on pattern and psychosocial variables of PA, children were asked to fill in the questionnaire which was adapted from the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) survey. Anthropometric measures of children’s weight, height and skinfold thickness were obtained. Considering PA pattern, adiposity level and psychosocial variables, differences and correlations were explored in Gender and SES groups.\ud \ud Results\ud This study confirmed the difference in both levels and types of PA between boys and girls. There were no significant differences in PA patterns among SES groups, apart from the membership of sports club. Significant correlation was found between PA and encouragement from both parents and friends. The difference in gender groups in importance for the following was found; building up strength, taking part in competitions and win, improving my physical skills and pleasing their family, while in SES groups; taking part in competition and win and pleasing my family. Correlations between PA and the following were found to be significant; becoming healthy, building up strength, enjoying myself and have fun, being part of a team, making new friends.\ud \ud Conclusions\ud Gender has strong associations with PA patterns; levels and types of PA, as well as importance of reasons for PA. This gender difference should be considered in the school settings. Encouragement from parents and friends is also a good facilitator. Especially, friends are important. Becoming healthy, enjoying themselves and having fun and improving physical skills were found to be important for children. These aspects should be generated when it comes to promotion of PA among school children.
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    World Health Organization, 2008. School Policy Framework: Implementation of the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health Accessed 18 Nov 2015.

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