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Associations between built environment and physical activity of 7–8-year-old children. Cross-sectional results from the Lithuanian COSI study

Summary


Children found to be more physically active when parks and other types of recreation areas are available

This study examined possible associations between physical activity of primary school children (age 7-8) and the built environment in Lithuania. The built environment is defined in terms of what is human-made and provides a setting for activity. The scale ranges from buildings and parks to neighborhoods and cities. Variables relating to the built environment analyzed for this study included distance, road safety to and from school, level of urbanization, playgrounds, and other types of recreation areas.

Data was obtained from the results of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI). Over 3000 parent-completed surveys were analyzed for this study. A part of the survey asked parents to provide information about the frequency of their child’s physical activity (ranging from “more than” to “less than” an hour a day) and if their child participated in sports or dancing clubs. Parents were also asked to provide information about six built environment variables: family place of residence (urban/rural), housing (private house/flat), form of child transportation to and from school (walking, biking, riding in a car or bus), road safety to and from school, playgrounds, and other recreation areas. Additionally, parents were asked to indicate how physically active they were.

Results indicated that almost two thirds (62.1%) of the children spend less than an hour a day being physically active. Children with parents who considered themselves as physically inactive were 3.5 times more physically inactive than children with parents who stated they were physically active. No significant differences were found in the physical activity levels of children living in private homes or flats. Urban children were more likely than rural children to be physically active for more than one hour per day. Physical activity levels of children were also higher in places where local parks and other recreation areas were readily available.

Citation

Žaltauskė, V., Petrauskienė, A., (2016). Associations between built environment and physical activity of 7–8-year-old children. Cross-sectional results from the Lithuanian COSI study. Medicina, 52(6), 366-371.

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