On SAGE Insight: Prospective Associations Between Play Environments and Pediatric Obesity

From American Journal of Health Promotion

Active play has recently caught the attention of public health scholars as a promising strategy for promoting children’s well-being. Children engage in far less active play today than in previous decades. This trend is likely to reflect children’s unprecedented access to traditional (televisions, computers) and new (tablets, smart phones) forms of media technology.

The purpose of this research is to identify school typologies based on the availability of play equipment and installations and also examine the associations between availability of play items and child obesity. The presence of play items was assessed in each child’s school. The researchers used data from the Quebec Adipose and Lifestyle Investigation in Youth study (QUALITY), an ongoing investigation of the natural history of obesity and type 2 diabetes in Quebec children of Caucasian descent. This is Secondary analysis of the longitudinal data. The final analytic sample comprised 512 students clustered in 296 schools (81% response).2

Results indicate active play may foster health benefits by increasing milder forms of activity and movement. Active play equipment might also benefit child health by reducing sedentary time. Policies regulating the availability of play items in schools could enrich comprehensive school-based obesity prevention strategies. Extending research in this area to diverse populations is warranted.

Abstract

Purpose:

To identify school typologies based on the availability of play equipment and installations. We also examined the associations between availability of play items and child adiposity.

Design:

Secondary analysis of longitudinal data.

Setting:

Elementary schools in Montreal, Canada.

Participants:

We used data from the Quebec Adipose and Lifestyle Investigation in Youth study (QUALITY), an ongoing investigation of the natural history of obesity and type 2 diabetes in Quebec children of Caucasian descent.

Measures:

The presence of play items was assessed in each child’s school. A trained nurse directly assessed child anthropometric measurements to derive body mass index and waist circumference. Body fat composition was measured using DEXA Prodigy Bone Densitometer System.

Analyses:

The final analytic sample comprised 512 students clustered in 296 schools (81% response). We used K-cluster analyses to identify school typologies based on the variety of play items on school grounds. Generalized estimation equations were used to estimate associations between school clusters and outcomes.

Results:

We identified 4 distinct school typologies. Children in schools with the most varied indoor play environments had lower overall body fat, B = −1.26 cm (95% confidence interval [CI], −2.28 to −0.24 cm), and smaller waist circumference, B = −4.42 cm (95% CI, −7.88 to −0.96 cm), compared to children with the least varied indoor play environment.

Conclusion:

Our results suggest that policies regulating the availability of play items in schools may enrich comprehensive school-based obesity prevention strategies. Extending research in this area to diverse populations is warrante

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Article details

Prospective Associations Between Play Environments and Pediatric Obesity
Caroline Fitzpatrick, PhD, Stephanie Alexander, PhD, Melanie Henderson, PhD, …
First Published October 24, 2018 Research Article
DOI: 10.1177/0890117118807211
From American Journal of Health Promotion

 



 

     
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