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Theses and Dissertations

Movement behaviours, body mass index, and demographics of toddlers and preschoolers attending Alberta child care centres Open Access


Other title
sedentary behaviour
body mass index
child care
early years
physical activity
Movement behaviour
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Kuzik, Nicholas, OC
Supervisor and department
Carson, Valerie (Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Davenport, Margie (Physical Education and Recreation)
Boulé, Normand (Physical Education and Recreation)
Carson, Valerie (Physical Education and Recreation)
Physical Education and Recreation

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
The overall objective of this thesis was to quantify levels of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep (movement behaviours), and determine how they are related to body mass index (BMI) in toddlers and preschoolers, while considering the impact of demographic variables. A sample of toddlers (19 to 35 months old) and preschoolers (36 to 60 months old) who attended child care centres in Alberta Canada were used to address the overall objective, within two manuscripts. The first manuscript describes objectively-measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour within child care centres, while examining differences between demographic groups (i.e., child sex, child age group, and parental immigration status). Children spent 7.0% of time engaged in moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, and 61.5% of time engaged in sedentary behaviour. Short sedentary bouts (1-4 minutes) were more frequent than longer bouts (≥5 minutes). Additionally, preschoolers were found to be more active, less sedentary, and engage in less frequent sedentary bouts of longer duration (≥10 minutes) compared to toddlers. The second manuscript examines the relationship between movement behaviours, within and outside of child care, with body mass index (BMI) z-scores; while testing if demographic variables moderated this relationship. A higher frequency of the shortest sedentary bouts (1-4 minutes) during child care was associated with a lower BMI z-score, after adjusting for demographic variables. No moderation effects were observed. The findings within this thesis can help guide future research, and begin to inform future interventions, and public health initiatives. The limited physical activity levels, in particular moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, and predominantly sedentary behaviour levels observed, indicate interventions/initiatives that promote healthy movement behaviours in this age group may be needed. The negative relationship observed between frequency of short sedentary bouts and BMI z-scores indicate that breaking up sedentary behaviour into short sedentary bouts may be an important intervention target. Future longitudinal and experimental research is needed to confirm and build on this research in an effort to promote healthy growth and development in our youngest children.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Kuzik, N., Clark, D., Ogden, N., Harber, V., & Carson, V. (2015). Physical activity and sedentary behaviour of toddlers and preschoolers in child care centres in Alberta, Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 106(4).

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