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Physical activity in adolescence: cross-national comparisons of levels, distributions and disparities across 52 countries

Bann, D; Scholes, S; Fluharty, M; Shure, N; (2018) Physical activity in adolescence: cross-national comparisons of levels, distributions and disparities across 52 countries. BioRxiv: Cold Spring Harbor, NY, USA. Green open access

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Abstract

Introduction: Despite global concerns regarding physical inactivity, limited cross-national evidence exists to compare adolescents’ physical activity participation. We analysed 52 high- and low-middle income countries, with activity undertaken inside and outside of school in 2015. We investigated gender- and socioeconomic-disparities, and additionally examined correlations with country-level indices of physical education (PE) curriculum time allocation, wealth, and income inequality. / Methods: We used the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a nationally representative cross-sectional survey of 15-year-olds (N=347,935). Students reported average attendance (days/week) in PE classes, and the days/week engaged in moderate activity (MPA) and vigorous activity (VPA) outside of school. Both the mean and distributions of outcomes were evaluated, as were gender- and socioeconomic-disparities. Pearson’s correlations (r) between the physical activity outcomes and PE curriculum time allocation, wealth (indexed by GDP) and income inequality (indexed by the Gini coefficient) were calculated. / Results: Activity levels inside and outside of school were higher in Eastern Europe than Western Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East/North Africa. Comparisons of average levels masked potentially important differences in distributions. For example, activity levels inside school showed a bimodal distribution in the US (mean PE class attendance 2.4 days/week; 41.3%, 6.3% and 33.1% of students attended PE classes on 0, 2 and 5 days/week respectively). In contrast, most other countries exhibited more centrally shaped distributions. Pro-male and pro-high socioeconomic disparities were modest for participation inside school, but higher for MPA and VPA outside of school. The magnitude of these also differed markedly by country. Activity in school was weakly positively correlated with PE curriculum time allocation (r=0.33); activity outside of school was strongly negatively correlated with income inequality (e.g. r=-0.69 for MPA). / Conclusion: Our findings reveal extensive cross-country differences in adolescents’ physical activity; in turn, these highlight policy areas that could ultimately improve global adolescent health, such as the incorporation of minimum country-level PE classes, and the targeting of gender- and socioeconomic- disparities in activity conducted outside of school. Our findings also highlight the utility of educational databases such as PISA for use in global population health research.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Physical activity in adolescence: cross-national comparisons of levels, distributions and disparities across 52 countries
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1101/483552
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1101/483552
Language: English
Additional information: The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY 4.0 International license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10065394
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