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Predictors of physical activity and sedentary behaviours among 11-16 year olds: Multilevel analysis of the 2013 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study in Wales

Morgan, Kelly ORCID:, Hallingberg, Britt ORCID:, Littlecott, Hannah ORCID:, Murphy, Simon ORCID:, Fletcher, Adam ORCID:, Roberts, Chris and Moore, Graham ORCID: 2016. Predictors of physical activity and sedentary behaviours among 11-16 year olds: Multilevel analysis of the 2013 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study in Wales. BMC Public Health 16 , 569. 10.1186/s12889-016-3213-8

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Background The present study investigated associations between individual- and school-level predictors and young people’s self-reported physical activity (total activity and moderate-to-vigorous activity) and sedentary behaviours. Methods Individual-level data provided by the 2013/14 cross-sectional survey ‘Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study in Wales’ were linked to school-level data within the ‘HBSC School Environment Questionnaire’. The final sample comprised 7,376 young people aged 11-16 years across 67 schools. Multilevel modelling was used to examine predictors of total physical activity, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary behaviours (screen-based behaviours). Results Taking more physical activity (less than 5 days vs. 5 or more days per week), engaging in higher levels of MVPA (less than 4 hours vs. 4 or more hours per week) and reporting 2 or less hours of sedentary time were predicted by several individual level variables. Active travel to school positively predicted high levels of physical activity, however, gender stratified models revealed active travel as a predictor amongst girls only (OR:1.25 (95 % CI:1.05 - 1.49)). No school-level factors were shown to predict physical activity levels, however, a lower school socio-economic status was associated with a higher level of MVPA (OR:1.02 (95 % CI:1.01 - 1.03)) and a lower risk of sedentary behaviour (OR:0.97 (95 % CI:0.96 – 0.99)). A shorter lunch break (OR:1.33 (95 % CI:1.11 - 1.49)) and greater provision of facilities (OR:1.02 (95 % CI:1.00 - 1.05)) were associated with increased sedentary activity. Gender stratified models revealed that PE lesson duration (OR:1.18 (95 % CI:1.01 - 1.37)) and the provision of sports facilities (OR:1.03 (95 % CI:1.00 - 1.06)) were predictors of boy’s sedentary behaviours only. Conclusion Shorter lunch breaks were associated with increased sedentary time. Therefore, while further research is needed to better understand the causal nature of this association, extending lunch breaks could have a positive impact on sedentary behaviour through the provision of more time for physical activity. The findings also suggest that active travel could offer a mechanism for increasing physical activity levels particularly amongst girls. Particularly, the design and evaluation of interventions to promote physical activity during school hours should employ a comprehensive approach, including a focus on school policies and behaviours both in and out of school hours. Keywords Physical activity – Sedentary behaviour – Active travel – School – Policy – Environment

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher: BMC
ISSN: 1471-2458
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 July 2016
Date of Acceptance: 25 June 2016
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2022 08:41

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