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Changes in physical activity during the transition from primary to secondary school in Belgian children: what is the role of the school environment?

Femke De Meester (UGent) , Delfien Van Dyck (UGent) , Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij (UGent) , Benedicte Deforche (UGent) and Greet Cardon (UGent)
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Abstract
Background: Key life periods have been associated with changes in physical activity (PA). This study investigated (1) how PA changes when primary school children transfer to secondary school, (2) if school environmental characteristics differ between primary and secondary schools and (3) if changes in school environmental characteristics can predict changes in PA in Belgian schoolchildren. Moderating effects of gender and the baseline level of PA were investigated for the first and third research question. Methods: In total, 736 children (10-13 years) of the last year of primary school participated in the first phase of this longitudinal study. Two years later, 502 of these children (68.2%) agreed to participate in the second phase. Accelerometers, pedometers and the Flemish Physical Activity Questionnaire were used to measure PA. School environmental characteristics were reported by the school principals. Cross-classified regression models were conducted to analyze the data. Results: Self-reported active transport to school and accelerometer weekday moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) increased after the transition to secondary school while self-reported extracurricular PA and total PA decreased. Pedometer weekday step counts decreased, but this decrease was only apparent among those who achieved the PA guidelines in primary school. Secondary schools scored higher on the school environmental characteristics: provision of sports and PA during lunch break, active schoolyards and playgrounds and health education policy but lower on sports and PA after-school than primary schools. Changes in the school environmental characteristics: active commuting to school, active schoolyards and playgrounds and health education policy resulted in changes in self-reported extracurricular PA, total PA, pedometer/accelerometer determined step counts and accelerometer determined MVPA. Moderating effects were found for baseline PA and gender. Conclusion: PA changed after the transition to secondary school. In general, secondary schools seem more likely to foster strategies to promote PA during school hours than primary schools who seem more likely to foster strategies to promote PA after school. Changes in school environmental characteristics may contribute to changes in PA. Thus, if confirmed in future studies, efforts are needed to implement these components in schools as early as possible to positively affect the change in PA
Keywords
MOTION SENSORS, YOUTH, RECESS PERIODS, ADOLESCENTS, VALIDITY, ELEMENTARY-SCHOOLS, PEDOMETERS, ACCELEROMETER, TIME, GIRLS

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
De Meester, Femke, Delfien Van Dyck, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Benedicte Deforche, and Greet Cardon. 2014. “Changes in Physical Activity During the Transition from Primary to Secondary School in Belgian Children: What Is the Role of the School Environment?” Bmc Public Health 14.
APA
De Meester, Femke, Van Dyck, D., De Bourdeaudhuij, I., Deforche, B., & Cardon, G. (2014). Changes in physical activity during the transition from primary to secondary school in Belgian children: what is the role of the school environment? BMC PUBLIC HEALTH, 14.
Vancouver
1.
De Meester F, Van Dyck D, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Deforche B, Cardon G. Changes in physical activity during the transition from primary to secondary school in Belgian children: what is the role of the school environment? BMC PUBLIC HEALTH. 2014;14.
MLA
De Meester, Femke, Delfien Van Dyck, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, et al. “Changes in Physical Activity During the Transition from Primary to Secondary School in Belgian Children: What Is the Role of the School Environment?” BMC PUBLIC HEALTH 14 (2014): n. pag. Print.
@article{5796805,
  abstract     = {Background: Key life periods have been associated with changes in physical activity (PA). This study investigated (1) how PA changes when primary school children transfer to secondary school, (2) if school environmental characteristics differ between primary and secondary schools and (3) if changes in school environmental characteristics can predict changes in PA in Belgian schoolchildren. Moderating effects of gender and the baseline level of PA were investigated for the first and third research question. 
Methods: In total, 736 children (10-13 years) of the last year of primary school participated in the first phase of this longitudinal study. Two years later, 502 of these children (68.2\%) agreed to participate in the second phase. Accelerometers, pedometers and the Flemish Physical Activity Questionnaire were used to measure PA. School environmental characteristics were reported by the school principals. Cross-classified regression models were conducted to analyze the data. 
Results: Self-reported active transport to school and accelerometer weekday moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) increased after the transition to secondary school while self-reported extracurricular PA and total PA decreased. Pedometer weekday step counts decreased, but this decrease was only apparent among those who achieved the PA guidelines in primary school. 
Secondary schools scored higher on the school environmental characteristics: provision of sports and PA during lunch break, active schoolyards and playgrounds and health education policy but lower on sports and PA after-school than primary schools. 
Changes in the school environmental characteristics: active commuting to school, active schoolyards and playgrounds and health education policy resulted in changes in self-reported extracurricular PA, total PA, pedometer/accelerometer determined step counts and accelerometer determined MVPA. Moderating effects were found for baseline PA and gender. 
Conclusion: PA changed after the transition to secondary school. In general, secondary schools seem more likely to foster strategies to promote PA during school hours than primary schools who seem more likely to foster strategies to promote PA after school. Changes in school environmental characteristics may contribute to changes in PA. Thus, if confirmed in future studies, efforts are needed to implement these components in schools as early as possible to positively affect the change in PA},
  articleno    = {261},
  author       = {De Meester, Femke and Van Dyck, Delfien and De Bourdeaudhuij, Ilse and Deforche, Benedicte and Cardon, Greet},
  issn         = {1471-2458},
  journal      = {BMC PUBLIC HEALTH},
  keyword      = {MOTION SENSORS,YOUTH,RECESS PERIODS,ADOLESCENTS,VALIDITY,ELEMENTARY-SCHOOLS,PEDOMETERS,ACCELEROMETER,TIME,GIRLS},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {15},
  title        = {Changes in physical activity during the transition from primary to secondary school in Belgian children: what is the role of the school environment?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-14-261},
  volume       = {14},
  year         = {2014},
}

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