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

  • Author / Creator
    Carson, Valerie
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2009
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.