Physical Activity in the Era of the Childhood Obesity Epidemic: Patterns, Determinants, and Effective Health Promotion Programs

  • Author / Creator
    Vander Ploeg, Kerry Ann
  • Physical activity is important for obesity prevention. Given that the prevalence of obesity among Canadian children has substantially increased over recent decades, and that obesity has substantial consequences for health and wellness, physical activity promotion continues to be a priority for public health. This thesis research aims to further our understanding of children’s behavioural patterns where they relate to physical activity and obesity. It also aims to identify factors and effective strategies that increase physical activity among children. These aims were assessed through six interconnected research papers. In the first paper we demonstrated that consideration should be given to activities not captured by pedometers as adjusting crude pedometer-measured steps for these activities substantially improved the ability to accurately assess children’s physical activity levels, and to identify children who were obese. In the second paper we revealed that policy makers should consider targeting physical activity in girls, and outside of school as these variables and time periods were characterized by low activity. In the third and fourth papers we showed that parental beliefs and support for physical activity were positively related to children’s physical activity achieved on weekend days, and negatively associated with childhood overweight. In the fifth paper we demonstrated that school programs that support physical activity through positive environments, curriculum, policy, and partnerships lead to improvements in children’s physical activity both during and beyond school. In the last paper, we revealed that programs implemented in schools located in disadvantaged neighbourhoods reduced inequalities in physical activity. Furthermore, we found that although the programs were implemented school-wide and did not specifically target student subgroups, they were effective in increasing physical activity relatively evenly among low-active, active, and high-active students. Likewise they relatively evenly reached normal weight and overweight students, and those of distinct socioeconomic backgrounds. The results of this thesis provide researchers and policy makers with new evidence on important determinants of physical activity in children from an Albertan context. They also underline the importance of supporting strategies for physical activity promotion and specifically school health programs as these improve physical activity, reduce obesity prevalence rates and diminish health inequalities.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • 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.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Epidemiology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Maximova, Katerina (School of Public Health)
    • Veugelers, Paul (School of Public Health)
    • Laing, Lory (School of Public Health)
    • McGavock, Jonathan (Pediatrics and Child Health)
    • Janssen, Ian (Community Health and Epidemiology)