Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

A Pictorial View of the Physical Activity Socialization of Young Adolescents outside of School

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

A Pictorial View of the Physical Activity Socialization of Young Adolescents outside of School

Article excerpt

Childhood obesity prevention has fallen short of anticipated impact. Therefore, intervention programs need to be redirected to other potential settings to increase youth physical activity. This qualitative study, using autodriven interview techniques, was conducted to identify out-of-school settings that youth perceive as important for physical activity. Sixty-six children took photographs involving their physical activity involvement. A subsample completed follow-up focus groups. Salient themes included types of physical activities related to free play, fitness, organized sports, and chores. Most photographs included multiple children of similar age and were taken outdoors. Data suggest children associate chores with physical activity and engage in fitness-related activities. In addition, friends and family, the outdoors, and importantly, the home emerged as natural intervention components that may prove useful towards decreasing the physical inactivity and obesity of youth.

Key words: behavioral settings, elementary school, qualitative research


Accumulating evidence indicates that childhood obesity is not only a major public health crisis for developed countries, but is increasing rapidly in developing countries as well (de Onis & Blossner, 2000; Ogden et al., 2006; Ogden, Carroll, & Flegal, 2008; Wang, 2001; Wang, Monteiro, & Popkin, 2002). Predictions of childhood obesity prevalence rates in the United States suggest that by the year 2030 approximately 30% of youth will be obese (> 95th percentile; Wang, Beydoun, Liang, Caballero, & Kumanyika, 2008). Moreover, numerous studies revealed that substantial declines in physical activity occur as youth move from childhood to adolescence (Nader, Bradley, Houts, McRitchie, & O'Brien, 2008). Such drastic changes in weight status followed by decreases in activity levels have led to considerable investment in obesity prevention and physical activity promotion over the past decades (Finkelstein & Trogdon, 2008). Unfortunately, the results of these efforts have made little impact (Durant, Baskin, Thomas, & Allison, 2008).

The majority of childhood obesity prevention efforts have focused on the school as the primary (or one of several) intervention settings (Harris, Kuramoto, Schulzer, & Retallack, 2009; van Sluijs, McMinn, & Griffin, 2007). The effectiveness of school-based interventions, however, have been less than anticipated (Kropski, Keckley, & Jensen, 2008; Sharma, 2006, 2007; Shaya, Flores, Gbarayor, & Wang, 2008; van Sluijs et al., 2007), leading prevention scientists to look at other behavior settings with which to intervene. Out-of-school time (e.g., in after-school programs, at home, on weekends, at summer camps) is gradually being recognized as an opportunity for physical activity and obesity prevention programming (Beets, Beighle, Erwin, & White, 2009; Jago & Baranowski, 2004). It has been shown that children are more active outside of school than in school (Gidlow, Cochrane, Davey, & Smith, 2008), and recent studies have indicated that participation in organized youth sports and intramurals is associated with higher physical activity levels in young adulthood (Bocarro, Kanters, Casper, & Forrester, 2008; Kjonniksen, Fjortoft, & Wold, 2009). Additionally, 76% of children ages 9-12 years spend 6 hr or more per week playing sports, and 17% indicate that they engage in activities outdoors (Hofferth & Sandberg, 2001).

As evident in recent reviews (]ago & Baranowski, 2004; van Sluijs et al., 2007), the extent of our understanding of the out-of-school timeframe is relatively limited. Thus, obesity prevention requires a broadening of intervention components to incorporate out-of-school settings to complement school-based interventions already in place.

A crucial step in developing interventions is to conduct formative assessments (Vu, Murrie, Gonzalez, & Jobe, 2006). …

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