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Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2005 Jan-Mar;17(1):49-56.

Physical inactivity and socioeconomic status in Canadian adolescents.

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  • 1R Samuel McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, Canada.


Physical activity is an important determinant of population health. In this paper, we examine levels of physical activity among Canadian adolescents in relation to socioeconomic status.


Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.1, conducted in 2003, were used to evaluate the association between socioeconomic status and physical activity. This survey included 9,294 males between 12 and 20 years of age, and 9,147 females in the same age range.


Among adolescents aged 12 to 20 years, 55.9% of males and 39.2% of females were physically active. The proportion of subjects in the active category tended to decrease with age in both males and females. Adolescents from low income families were more physically inactive (odds ratio=1.30, 95% confidence interval=1.29-1.32) than those from high income families.


Physical inactivity in adolescence represents an important population health issue in Canada. Physical activity levels tended to be higher among males, younger people, and those with higher socioeconomic status. Multi-sectoral policies and initiatives are needed to create environments that promote physical activity among Canadian youth.

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