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Eur J Public Health. 2011 Apr;21(2):145-50. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckq034. Epub 2010 Jul 3.

Psychosocial correlates of objectively measured physical activity in children.

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Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.



A large proportion of UK children do not reach the recommended levels of physical activity (PA) required for optimum health. Few studies have investigated the psychosocial correlates of objectively measured PA in preadolescents. This study examined child attitudes and parental behaviours as correlates of children's activity.


In total, 278 children (138 boys and 140 girls) aged 7-9 years were recruited as part of the Physical Exercise and Appetite in Children Study (PEACHES). Activity was objectively measured using the Actigraph GT1M accelerometer; the variables were total PA (mean accelerometer counts min(-1)) and moderate and vigorous PA (MVPA) >2000 counts min(-1). Child-focussed variables were self-efficacy (Physical Activity Self-Efficacy scale), physical performance self-concept (Self-Perception Profile for Children), positive and negative outcome expectancies and liking for PA. Parental variables were PA and support for child activity.


Significant sex-by-psychosocial outcome interactions were observed for total PA and MVPA, so data from boys and girls were analysed separately. No psychosocial or parental outcomes were correlated with activity in girls. Significant correlates of activity in boys (self-efficacy, self-concept and parental support) were entered in to a hierarchical regression using both total PA and MVPA and, controlling for BMI SD, SES and ethnicity. PA self-efficacy and self-concept were significantly independently associated with total PA, explaining around 12% of the variance. Self-efficacy was significantly associated with time spent in MVPA, also explaining around 12% of the variance in this behaviour. Parental support was not significant in the regression model.


PA self-efficacy and self-concept are significant correlates of objectively measured PA in UK boys.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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