Abstract

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Background

For preschool children, physical activity is associated with improved measures of health, while sedentary behaviour is associated with less favourable health outcomes. This study updates estimates of physical activity and sedentary behaviour among children aged 3 to 5, based on combined data from two cycles of the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) in order to calculate adherence to Canadian physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines.

Data and Methods

The data are from two independent samples that comprised the 2009-to-2011 (cycle 2) and 2012/2013 (cycle 3) CHMS. Accelerometry and a parent-administered questionnaire were used in both cycles on children aged 3 to 5. Accelerometer data, collected in 60-second epochs in cycle 2 and in 15-second epochs in cycle 3, were combined using an adjustment factor derived in an independent sample. Prevalence of adherence to the physical activity guidelines, according to the accelerometer data, was estimated based on a Betabinomial distribution. Adherence to the screen-time component of the sedentary behaviour guidelines was calculated using parent reports. Results are presented by personal and household-related covariates.

Results

An estimated 73% of 3- to 4-year-olds and 30% of 5-year-olds met their respective physical activity guidelines. Screen-time targets were met by 22% of 3- to 4-year-olds and 76% of 5-year-olds.

Interpretation

Because they rely on a larger sample size and stronger estimation methods, the findings of this study are more robust than previously published estimates. Results reveal room for improvement, particularly 5-year-olds’ physical activity and 3- to 4-year-olds’ screen time.

Keywords

Betabinomial, pediatric, surveillance, screen time

Findings

For preschool children, physical activity is associated with improved measures of adiposity, motor skill development, psychosocial health and cardiometabolic health indicators, while sedentary behaviour, notably screen time, is associated with increased adiposity and decreased psychosocial and cognitive development. In 2012, this evidence was used to develop physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines for Canadian children aged 0 to 4. [Full Text]

Authors

Authors: Didier Garriguet (didier.garriguet@canada.ca) and Rachel C. Colley are with the Health Analysis Division at Statistics Canada in Ottawa, Ontario. Valerie Carson is with the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. Ian Janssen is with Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Brian W. Timmons is with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Mark S. Tremblay is with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, Ontario.

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What is already known on this subject?

  • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines for Canadian preschoolers were developed in 2011 and 2012.
  • Previous estimates of the prevalence of adherence to the physical activity guidelines among 3- to 5-year-olds relied on accelerometer data collected in 60-second epochs and a relatively small sample size, and did not use a probabilistic approach.

What does this study add?

  • In 2012/2013, accelerometer data were collected in 15-second epochs.
  • Earlier 60-second epoch data were converted and combined with these 15-second data, thereby doubling the sample size.
  • A more robust method relying on a Betabinomial distribution was used to estimate prevalence of adherence to the physical activity guidelines.
  • An estimated 73% of 3- to 4-year-olds and 30% of 5-year-olds met their respective physical activity recommendations.

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