Research Study Abstract

Physical Activity Levels and Nutritional Knowledge's Among Children and Adolescents

  • Presented on July 3, 2014

Introduction: Childhood obesity is a consequence of environments that disrupt the balance of energy intake and energy expenditure. Obesogenic environments consist of social norms and environmental factors that facilitate unhealthy behaviors around diet and physical activity. Nutritional knowledge and physical activity are cornerstones of every obesity treatment. The aims are to understand and compare how nutritional knowledge and physical activity patterns occur in children and adolescents, and if there’s any differences by gender.

Methods: Sample comprised 467 children and adolescents, 237 boys. PA was measured using ActiGraph accelerometers (GT3Xs). Participants were instructed to use the accelerometer, according to standard procedures, and data anlayzed using the recommended guidelines(Evenson et al, 2008). Nutritional Knowledge (NK) was assessed using the General Nutrition Questionnaire for Portuguese Adolescent, and results presented as a Final Nutritional Score, in accordance with standard procedures (Ferro-Lebres, V, Ribeiro, J, Moreira, P, 2014). Height, weight, body mass index were also assessed. Univariate Analysis of Variance-GLM was used to compare genders adjusted to different school levels of the students, using SPSS.

Results: Our results present higher (p<0,05) nutritional scores for girls (67,1) than boys (63,6 score). Opposed to these results boys (as expected) significantly present higher amounts of moderate to vigorous PA compared to girls (71,6 min./day vs 42,3 min./day; p<0,01). Additionally, we have 14,7% overweight/obese girls and 17,4% overweight/obese boys.

Discussion: Other studies have observed similar results regarding MVPA in boys and girls, but the NK about diet and nutrition is also crucial for the treatment and prevention of obesity in children. Therefore it’s important to understand if higher scores in NK would lead to better nutritional practices; would it be possible that increasing student’s NK about food contents regarding different nutrients could improve their daily practices. Do children and adolescents that have better NK behave differently regarding PA practices?

References: Evenson, K. R., et al (2008). Journal of Sports Sciences, 26(14), 1557-1565. Ferro-Lebres, Ribeiro, JC, Moreira, P. (2014): Ecology of Food and Nutrition (accepted).

Grants: Project supported by: PTDC/DTP-DES/1328/2012 (FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-028619); and Research Center supported by: PEst-OE/SAU/UI0617/2011.