Disparities in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity among girls and overweight and obese schoolchildren during school- and out-of-school time

  • Published on Mar 22, 2016

Background: Increasing physical activity (PA) during the school day and out-of-school time are critical strategies for preventing childhood obesity and improving overall health. The purpose of the present investigation was to examine schoolchildren’s volume and type of PA during school-time and out-of-school, compared to national recommendations and differences by sex and weight status.

Methods: This cross-sectional analysis included 517 3rd-5th grade schoolchildren from 13 New England elementary schools (October 2013-January 2014). Demographics were collected by parent questionnaire. Measured height and weight were used to categorize child weight status. Accelerometer data were collected over 7 days. PA was coded as total activity counts and minutes of sedentary, light, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (SED, LPA, MVPA) during 1) school, 2) weekday out-of-school, 3) weekend, and 4) total daily time. Multivariable mixed models were used to examine associations between sex and weight status and total counts, SED, LPA, and MVPA, controlling for demographics, wear-time, and clustering within schools.

Result: 453 participants (60.5 % girls; mean age 9.1 years; 30.5 % overweight/obese) had valid accelerometer wear time (≥3 days, ≥ 10 h/day). Few children achieved 60 min total daily (15.0 %) or school-time (8.0 %) MVPA recommendations. For all time-of-day categories, girls achieved fewer MVPA minutes than boys (p < .0001), and overweight/obese participants achieved fewer MVPA minutes than normal/underweight participants (p = 0.05). Minutes of LPA declined by grade-level (p < .05) and were lower in girls than boys during school-time only (p < .05).

Conclusion: Disparities in MVPA by sex and weight status across school and out-of-school time highlight the need for programs with equitable reach.


  • Kristie Hubbard 1
  • Christina D. Economos 2
  • Peter Bakun 2
  • Rebecca Boulos 3
  • Kenneth Chui 1
  • Megan P. Mueller 4
  • Katie Smith 2
  • Jennifer Sacheck 4


Tufts University School of Medicine, Public Health and Community Medicine
ChildObesity180, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
University of New England, School of Community and Population Health
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University


BioMed Central


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