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Prev Med. 1999 Oct;29(4):305-12.

Sociocultural determinants of physical activity among children.

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Department of Nutrition Sciences, School of Health Related Professions, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 35294, USA.



This study explores underresearched sociocultural predictors of children's physical activity and fitness, with particular attention paid to the influence of ethnicity independent from potential confounders such as social class.


Utilizing a 1997/1998 cross-sectional sample of 107 children (ranging in age from 6.5 to 13 years, mean = 10 years) participating in a longitudinal study of childhood obesity in Birmingham, Alabama, predictors of television viewing, vigorous exercise, habitual physical activity, exercise in school P.E. classes, sports team participation, and maximal aerobic capacity were identified, utilizing multiple regression analyses.


The results indicated few ethnic differences in childhood physical activity once characteristics such as social class and single vs dual parent family background were controlled for. Specific multivariate findings included higher levels of television viewing and vigorous exercise among children from single parent homes; lower habitual physical activity among girls; less P.E. exercise among African Americans and children from single parent homes; higher sports team participation among older yet physically immature children; and higher physical fitness among boys, Caucasians, physically mature children, and children from single parent homes.


This study illustrates the multidimensional nature of childhood physical activity and the influence of sociocultural factors on children's activity patterns.

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