Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Overweight and obesity are serious health concerns facing American children today. The number of children (2 to 19 year olds) who are overweight has increased from 13.9% in 1999-2000, to 15.4% in 2001-2002, and 17.1% in 2003-2004. The prevalence in overweight and obesity rates is increasing. Since it is well documented that physical activity attenuates the overweight and obesity crises, physical activity has been deemed as a leading health indicator for improving our nation's health, and is an effective approach to preventing and/or reducing overweight and obesity. In a 2003 study, it was discovered that 72.3% of middle school children participated in vigorous intensity physical activity at least three days of the previous week and 33.6% participated in moderate intensity physical activity at least five days the previous week. Yet, it is recommended that middle school age children participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day. The primary purpose of this study was to determine if differences in after-school physical activity participation existed among middle school children from different socioeconomic statuses (SES). The secondary purpose was to identify which predisposing, reinforcing, and enabling factors predicted after-school physical activity participation among middle school children. The PRECEDE-PROCEED planning model was utilized in a cross-sectional, descriptive, survey research design. The study sample consisted of 158 middle school children (24.9% participation rate). The gender breakdown of the sample was almost even, 81 females (51.3%) and 76 males (48.1%). The socioeconomic status of the sample were 39.2% low SES and 58.9% were not-low SES. Almost two-thirds of the children (60.8%) were physically activity for one hour or more after-school each day. Somers' d tests revealed that there was a significant difference (p = .035) in children's after-school physical activity level and their socioeconomic status. Low SES children were more active than not-low SES children. Ordinal logistic regression analysis revealed that of the fourteen predisposing, reinforcing, and enabling factors that were tested, physical activity self-efficacy (p = .03), attraction to physical activity (p = .01) (predisposing factors), and access to sports equipment (p = .01) (enabling factor) were statistically significant predictors of middle school children's after-school physical activity level. Children who held a higher level of physical activity self-efficacy were 3.4 times more likely to be physically active after school that children with a lower level. Children who were attracted to physically active games, sports, and activities were 3.48 times more likely to be physically active after school that children with lower levels of physical activity attraction. Children who felt that they had active toys, games, equipment, and supplies at home were 2.46 times more likely to be physically active after school than children who did not perceive adequate access to equipment. Middle school children have approximately 6 ½ hours of time after school each day to devote to a variety of pursuits. Although almost two-thirds of children in this study met the daily physical activity recommendation, research shows that as children grow older, their physical activity levels decrease. Furthermore, most research also shows that low socioeconomic status adults engage in less physical activity that their not-low counterparts. Consequently, the area in which this study was conducted was rural and poor Eastern Kentucky; health educators must continually strive to cultivate children's physical activity behavior. This study also found that the average time children devoted to watching television and playing computer/video games was 3 hours and 43 minutes per day. Communities will see long-term health benefits when strong foundations for physically active lifestyles are established and sedentary activities are minimized.
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