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      Determinants of Change in Physical Activity in Children and Adolescents : A Systematic Review


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          Data are available on correlates of physical activity in children and adolescents, less is known about the determinants of change. This review aims to systematically review the published evidence regarding determinants of change in physical activity in children and adolescents.

          Evidence acquisition

          Prospective quantitative studies investigating change in physical activity in children and adolescents aged 4–18 years were identified from seven databases (to November 2010): PubMed, SCOPUS, PsycINFO, Ovid MEDLINE, SPORTDdiscus, Embase, and Web of Knowledge. Study inclusion, quality assessment, and data extraction were independently validated by two researchers. Semi-quantitative results were stratified by age (4–9 years, 10–13 years, and 14–18 years).

          Evidence synthesis

          Of the 46 studies that were included, 31 used self-reported physical activity; average methodologic quality was 3.2 (SD=1.2), scored 0–5. Of 62 potential determinants identified, 30 were studied more than three times and 14 reported consistent findings (66% of the reported associations were in the same direction). For children aged 4–9 years, girls reported larger declines than boys. Among those aged 10–13 years, higher levels of previous physical activity and self-efficacy resulted in smaller declines. Among adolescents (aged 14–18 years), higher perceived behavioral control, support for physical activity, and self-efficacy were associated with smaller declines in physical activity.


          Few of the variables studied were consistently associated with changes in physical activity, although some were similar to those identified in cross-sectional studies. The heterogeneity in study samples, exposure and outcome variables, and the reliance on self-reported physical activity limit conclusions and highlight the need for further research to inform development and targeting of interventions.

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          Most cited references63

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          A review of correlates of physical activity of children and adolescents.

          Understanding the factors that influence physical activity can aid the design of more effective interventions. Previous reviews of correlates of youth physical activity have produced conflicting results. A comprehensive review of correlates of physical activity was conducted, and semiquantitative results were summarized separately for children (ages 3-12) and adolescents (ages 13-18). The 108 studies evaluated 40 variables for children and 48 variables for adolescents. About 60% of all reported associations with physical activity were statistically significant. Variables that were consistently associated with children's physical activity were sex (male), parental overweight status, physical activity preferences, intention to be active, perceived barriers (inverse), previous physical activity, healthy diet, program/facility access, and time spent outdoors. Variables that were consistently associated with adolescents' physical activity were sex (male), ethnicity (white), age (inverse), perceived activity competence, intentions, depression (inverse), previous physical activity, community sports, sensation seeking, sedentary after school and on weekends (inverse), parent support, support from others, sibling physical activity, direct help from parents, and opportunities to exercise. These consistently related variables should be confirmed in prospective studies, and interventions to improve the modifiable variables should be developed and evaluated.
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            Health consequences of obesity in youth: childhood predictors of adult disease.

            W Dietz (1998)
            Obesity now affects one in five children in the United States. Discrimination against overweight children begins early in childhood and becomes progressively institutionalized. Because obese children tend to be taller than their nonoverweight peers, they are apt to be viewed as more mature. The inappropriate expectations that result may have an adverse effect on their socialization. Many of the cardiovascular consequences that characterize adult-onset obesity are preceded by abnormalities that begin in childhood. Hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and abnormal glucose tolerance occur with increased frequency in obese children and adolescents. The relationship of cardiovascular risk factors to visceral fat independent of total body fat remains unclear. Sleep apnea, pseudotumor cerebri, and Blount's disease represent major sources of morbidity for which rapid and sustained weight reduction is essential. Although several periods of increased risk appear in childhood, it is not clear whether obesity with onset early in childhood carries a greater risk of adult morbidity and mortality. Obesity is now the most prevalent nutritional disease of children and adolescents in the United States. Although obesity-associated morbidities occur more frequently in adults, significant consequences of obesity as well as the antecedents of adult disease occur in obese children and adolescents. In this review, I consider the adverse effects of obesity in children and adolescents and attempt to outline areas for future research. I refer to obesity as a body mass index greater than the 95th percentile for children of the same age and gender.
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              Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity from ages 9 to 15 years.

              Decreased physical activity plays a critical role in the increase in childhood obesity. Although at least 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is recommended, few longitudinal studies have determined the recent patterns of physical activity of youth. To determine the patterns and determinants of MVPA of youth followed from ages 9 to 15 years. Longitudinal descriptive analyses of the 1032 participants in the 1991-2007 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development birth cohort from 10 study sites who had accelerometer-determined minutes of MVPA at ages 9 (year 2000), 11 (2002), 12 (2003), and 15 (2006) years. Participants included boys (517 [50.1%]) and girls (515 [49.9%]); 76.6% white (n = 791); and 24.5% (n = 231) lived in low-income families. Mean MVPA minutes per day, determined by 4 to 7 days of monitored activity. At age 9 years, children engaged in MVPA approximately 3 hours per day on both weekends and weekdays. Weekday MVPA decreased by 37 minutes per year [corrected], while weekend MVPA decreased by 39 minutes per year [corrected]. By age 15 years, adolescents were only engaging in MVPA for 50 minutes per weekday [corrected] and 36 minutes per weekend day [corrected]. Boys were more active than girls, spending 18 and 14 more minutes per day [corrected] in MVPA on the weekdays and weekends, respectively. The rate of decrease in MVPA was the same for boys and girls. The estimated age at which girls crossed below the recommended 60 minutes of MVPA per day was approximately 13.2 years for weekday [corrected] activity compared with boys at 14.9 years [corrected], and for weekend activity, girls crossed below the recommended 60 minutes of MVPA at 12.7 years [corrected] compared with boys at 13.6 years [corrected]. In this study cohort, measured physical activity decreased significantly between ages 9 and 15 years.

                Author and article information

                Am J Prev Med
                Am J Prev Med
                American Journal of Preventive Medicine
                Elsevier Science
                June 2011
                June 2011
                : 40
                : 6
                : 645-658
                MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science and UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                [* ]Address correspondence to: Simon J. Griffin, DM, MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, United Kingdom simon.griffin@ 123456mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk
                © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

                This document may be redistributed and reused, subject to certain conditions.

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