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Correlates of intensity-specific physical activity in children aged 9–11 years: a multilevel analysis of UK data from the International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle and the Environment
  1. Hannah J Wilkie1,
  2. Martyn Standage1,
  3. Fiona B Gillison1,
  4. Sean P Cumming1,
  5. Peter T Katzmarzyk2
  1. 1 Department for Health, Centre for Motivation and Health Behaviour Change, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  2. 2 Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Martyn Standage; M.Standage{at}


Objectives Physical activity (PA) can provide numerous physical and psychological health gains, yet a low proportion of children in England are sufficiently active to accrue benefit. Analysing the correlates of PA from a socioecological perspective may help to identify factors that promote versus discourage PA. The purpose of the present study was to: (1) assess the relationships between a wide range of potential correlates and intensity-specific PA and (2) explore which correlates are associated with meeting government PA guidelines.

Design, setting and participants Cross-sectional study on children aged 9–11 years from the South West of England (n=425; 183 males).

Outcome measures A mixture of self-reported and objective measures (eg, body mass index (BMI), accelerometer-derived PA, self-reported sport participation, etc) were collected from child participants, parents and school teachers. After adjusting for covariates (ie, age, sex and accelerometer wear time), multilevel modelling techniques were employed to examine the relationships between potential correlates and light-intensity, moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity PA, as measured with an ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometer. Generalised linear mixed modelling was used to analyse the correlates associated with government-recommended levels of PA.

Results Computer use shared a negative association whereas parent support for PA showed a positive relationship with light-intensity PA. In terms of moderate-intensity PA, computer use and BMI z-score shared a negative association whereas positive relationships were found for sport participation, active transport and for outdoor time after school. Children at schools with 25%–49% of pupils attending school sport/PA clubs did more moderate-intensity PA than those attending schools with lower participation rates. For vigorous-intensity PA, a negative relationship was observed for BMI z-score, and positive associations for self-efficacy, active transport, parent support and the presence of crossing guards on routes to school. Correlates associated with meeting the PA guidelines were BMI z-score (negative), sport participation, active transport and outdoor time after school (all positive).

Conclusion Results demonstrate that factors pertaining to the individual, home and school environment may play an important role in understanding the correlates of differing PA intensities in children.

Trial registration number NCT01722500.

  • physical activity
  • child
  • correlates
  • multilevel analysis

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  • Contributors MS served as the principal investigator of the UK ISCOLE site which provide the data for this manuscript. With PTK (co-principal investigator of the 12-country ISCOLE study), MS, FBG and SPC contributed to preparations prior to implementing the ISCOLE protocol in the UK. HJW conceived the basis for this paper with input from MS. HJW analysed the data and drafted the manuscript with input from MS. MS, FBG, SPC and PTK provided critical edits to the manuscript. HJW produced the final version which MS, FBG, SPC and PTK approved prior to submission.

  • Funding ISCOLE was funded by The Coca-Cola Company.

  • Disclaimer With the exception of requiring that the study be global in nature, the study sponsor had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of manuscripts.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Parental/guardian consent obtained.

  • Ethics approval University of Bath Research Ethics Approval Committee for Health (reference number EP 10/11 137, approved 13/07/11).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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