Physical activity levels in 10- to 11-year-olds: clustering of psychosocial correlates

Greet Cardon, Renaat Philippaerts, Johan Lefevre, Lynn Matton, Katrien Wijndaele, Anne-Line Balduck, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij
Public Health Nutrition 2005, 8 (7): 896-903

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate gender differences for levels of physical activity, for sedentary behaviour and for psychosocial correlates in children, to evaluate whether psychosocial correlates cluster in meaningful ways and to examine whether physical activity and sedentary behaviour differ between children of clusters, differentiated by the level of perceived barriers and benefits, attitudes, social support and self-efficacy.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using the Flemish Physical Activity Questionnaire.

SETTING: Questionnaires to be filled out by the children and one of their parents, contacted through the school system.

SUBJECTS: A sample of 1124 10- to 11-year-olds (579 boys and 545 girls).

RESULTS: Girls were found to be less active than boys, with boys scoring better for social support, perceived benefits and self-efficacy compared with girls. The way of clustering differed between boys and girls. Boys were allocated to three clusters: one cluster with positive correlates towards physical activity, labelled 'positives'; one with negative correlates, labelled 'negatives'; and one characterised mainly by high perceived barriers, labelled 'hindered'. In both genders the highest levels of physical activity were found in the 'positives', the lowest in the 'negatives'. In girls a fourth cluster was identified, characterised mainly by low perceived barriers and low social support. Physical activity levels in the girls of this cluster, labelled 'indifferents', were the second highest.

CONCLUSIONS: More research is needed to further characterise these clusters. To prevent the physical activity decline during the transition from childhood to adulthood, novel interventions need to be explored that focus on children of the clusters with the most negative correlates.

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