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Screen time and seasonal variation in physical activity among preschool children in Edmonton Open Access


Other title
Physical Activity
Screen time
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Carson, Valerie
Supervisor and department
Spence, John (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Ball, Geoff (Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry: Department of Pediatrics)
Boule, Normand (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
Background: The prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity is increasing worldwide. One main determinant of overweight and obesity is inactivity. Little is known about the factors that influence physical activity and sedentary behaviour among young children. Seasonal variation was examined as a correlate of physical activity in both a literature review and in a sample of pre-school children in Edmonton, Alberta. Neighbourhood socioeconomic status (SES) was examined as a correlate of screen time use in the same sample of children. Methods: For study 1, databases were searched for studies on seasonal variation in physical activity levels. Studies 2 and 3 involved a sample of 4- and 5-year-old children, who were attending a health center in and around Edmonton, Alberta for preschool immunization between November, 2005 and August, 2007. Parents provided proxy reports of their children’s screen time viewing and physical activity. Height and weight were measured by a trained health assistant and body mass index (BMI) was calculated. Children’s postal codes were retrieved from health records to calculate neighbourhood SES through census data. The month the proxy report was completed was used to determine seasonality. Several regression models were constructed to examine relationships between variables in studies 2 and 3. Results: The review of literature revealed that 83% (29/35) of the studies found seasonal variation in physical activity among children and/or adolescents. For study 2, total physical activity as well as active play, weekday and weekend minutes were highest in the summer and lowest in the winter. Finally, neighbourhood SES was a predictor of screen time and TV/video use for girls but not for boys in study 3. Conclusion: Some consideration should be given to increasing physical activity opportunities in the winter for children, especially in areas of the world that experience extreme winter conditions. As well some consideration should be given to providing alternative activity opportunities for young girls who live in lower SES neighbourhoods.
License granted by Valerie Carson ( on 2009-07-21T15:27:29Z (GMT): 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. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein 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.
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