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Environmental Influences on Children's Physical Activity: Quantitative Estimates Using a Twin Design

Fisher, A; van Jaarsveld, CHM; Llewellyn, CH; Wardle, J; (2010) Environmental Influences on Children's Physical Activity: Quantitative Estimates Using a Twin Design. PLOS ONE , 5 (4) , Article e10110. 10.1371/journal.pone.0010110. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Twin studies offer a 'natural experiment' that can estimate the magnitude of environmental and genetic effects on a target phenotype. We hypothesised that fidgetiness and enjoyment of activity would be heritable but that objectively-measured daily activity would show a strong shared environmental effect.Methodology/Principal Findings: In a sample of 9-12 year-old same-sex twin pairs ( 234 individuals; 57 MZ, 60 DZ pairs) we assessed three dimensions of physical activity: i) objectively-measured physical activity using accelerometry, ii) 'fidgetiness' using a standard psychometric scale, and iii) enjoyment of physical activity from both parent ratings and children's self-reports. Shared environment effects explained the majority (73%) of the variance in objectively-measured total physical activity (95% confidence intervals (CI): 0.63-0.81) with a smaller unshared environmental effect (27%; CI: 0.19-0.37) and no significant genetic effect. In contrast, fidgetiness was primarily under genetic control, with additive genetic effects explaining 75% (CI: 62-84%) of the variance, as was parent's report of children's enjoyment of low 74% (CI: 61-82%), medium 80% (CI: 71-86%), and high impact activity (85%; CI: 78-90%), and children's expressed activity preferences (60%, CI: 42-72%).Conclusions: Consistent with our hypothesis, the shared environment was the dominant influence on children's day-to-day activity levels. This finding gives a strong impetus to research into the specific environmental characteristics influencing children's activity, and supports the value of interventions focused on home or school environments.

Type: Article
Title: Environmental Influences on Children's Physical Activity: Quantitative Estimates Using a Twin Design
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010110
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0010110
Language: English
Additional information: © 2010 Fisher et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. This research was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (31/D19086, www.bbsrc.ac.uk) and Cancer Research UK (C1418/A7974, www.cancerresearchuk.org). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Keywords: ACTIVITY LEVEL, ACTIVITY THERMOGENESIS, INFANT TEMPERAMENT, ENERGY-EXPENDITURE, GENETIC INFLUENCES, EARLY-CHILDHOOD, MOTOR-ACTIVITY, BEHAVIOR, ADOLESCENTS, EXERCISE
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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 Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/98877
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