University of Cambridge | May 2019 |Children from disadvantaged backgrounds and certain ethnic minorities do less vigorous physical activity
Researchers from the University of Cambridge are the first to investigate socio-economic and ethnicity-related differences in children’s vigorous intensity physical activity behaviour. The team studied the health of more than 5000 children using data from the Millennium Cohort Study -a longitudinal study that followed children born between September 2000 and January 2002-child participants were given accelerometers as their levels of physical activity were monitored for three days.
One of the study’s findings is that children whose mothers are highly educated are more likely to participate in the more physical activity her child was likely to have, equally the experts also observed that children spent more time in vigorous intensity activity incrementally with increasing household income.
Other findings suggest White British children perform on average more than three minutes more daily vigorous physical activity in comparison to children from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds. Children from ‘other ethnic groups’ also accumulated 2.2 minutes fewer daily vigorous intensity activity overall.
The researchers emphasise there could be a number of reasons that might explain the differences, including access to or the cost of participating in sports activities, and a parent working longer, inconsistent work hours within a low-income job. There may also be differences in home and family support for physical activity between ethnic groups.
“Children from different backgrounds can face a number of barriers preventing them from participating in sports or other types of vigorous physical activity,” adds Dr Jean Adams, one of the study’s authors: “We need to find more ways to provide opportunities for all children to get involved in vigorous activity.” (Source: University of Cambridge)
Full press release from the University of Cambridge
Objective: To investigate if daily vigorous physical activity, adjusted for minutes of moderate physical activity performed, differs by socio-economic position or ethnicity in a large sample of UK children with objectively measured physical activity.
Design: Nationally representative prospective cohort study.
Setting: UK children born between 2000 and 2002.
Participants: 5172 7-8-year-old children with valid accelerometer data for more than or equal to 10 h on more than or equal to 3 days, including one weekend day.
Main outcome measures: Time spent in vigorous physical activity (VPA) (more than 3841 counts per minute).
Explanatory measures: Maternal education, annual household OECD equivalised income, ethnicity.
Results: Multivariable linear regression models fitted to explore differences in average daily minutes of VPA (adjusted for moderate physical activity (MPA), mean accelerometer wear time, season of measurement, age and sex), revealed significantly higher amounts of VPA accumulated as a child’s socioeconomic position increased. Additionally, children from certain minority ethnicities accrued less daily VPA compared with their white British counterparts.
Conclusions: The socioeconomic and ethnic patterning of vigorous activity observed in this study mirrors parallel inequalities in rates of childhood obesity. Given the stronger association of vigorous activity (VPA) with adiposity than of moderate activity (MPA), intensity specific differences may be contributing to widening inequalities in obesity. Accordingly, these findings suggest that the current global focus on overall MVPA may mask important behavioural inequalities.
Read the full article in The BMJ