Research Study Abstract

Physical Activity and Time Spent Sedentary in an Ethnically Diverse Population of Pre-School Children

  • Presented on April 2014

Introduction: South Asian (SA) school-aged children are reported to be less active than White Europeans, which may contribute to poor current and/or future health. However, research in pre-schoolers is scarce. This study examined ethnic differences in objectively assessed physical activity (PA) and sedentary time of pre-schoolers from a multi-ethnic community.

Methods: A multicultural sample of 203 children (50% female; 41% SA) aged 2.9 (0.7) years from Bradford, England were studied. PA was assessed via a waist worn Actigraph for 6-7 days. A valid day was ≥7 hours of wear with the cutpoints for sedentary and MVPA set at <=25 and >418 counts per 15 second epoch, respectively. A MANCOVA, controlling for age, gender and monitor wear time, was used to determine ethnic (SA, Non-Asian) differences in activity. All analyses were conducted using SPSS 21.0 and alpha was set at 0.05.

Results: Children had, on average, 4.7(2.0) days and 10.6(1.9) hours/day of accelerometer wear. When adjusted for confounders, there was no significant gender difference in time sedentary or in minutes spent in light or MVPA. On average, children spent 5.1(1.4) hours sedentary, 4.3(0.9) hours in light PA and 1.2(0.4) hours per day in MVPA. MANCOVA revealed no significant difference in sedentary, light or MVPA between ethnic groups.

Conclusion: Results suggest, contrary to evidence in school aged children, that SA pre-schoolers have similar sedentary and PA levels to their non-SA peers. There is a need for longitudinal objective monitoring of PA and sedentary behaviour across childhood to establish if and when ethnic differences occur.