Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Parental education and parents' physical activity is associated with physical activity of their children

Today a new paper from the ENERGY study was published in a preliminary version in the journal Preventive Medicine. The Spanish partner in the ENERGY study, i.e. the group of Prof. Luis Moreno from Zaragoza University, took the lead in this paper and David Jimenez Pavon is first author. In the analyses for this paper we sought to examine the independent associations of the level of education of the parents and the levels of physical activity (PA) of parents with PA levels of the children in the ENERGY study across Europe.
As we reported before, a total of 7214 children (10-12years) were recruited from a school-based cross sectional survey during 2010 in seven European countries. Weight and height were measured. Parental educational level and parents' and children´s PA were assessed using questionnaires. We found that parents education level and parents PA levels are both indeed associated with the children´s PA: children of lower educated and less active parents have lower levels of PA. However, the relationships were gender and country-specific; in some countries the association was more apparent than in others and in some countries associations ere stronger for boys than girls or vice versa. In promoting PA among school-aged children, level of education of the parents and their PA levels should be taken into account.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What do adolescents think about active gaming?

Lack of physical activity and too much sedentary time are important risk factors for obesity and metabolic disease as well as a range of other health issues. Young people spend a lot of time in sedentary activities such as watching TV, computer and electronic gaming activities. Our recent cross-European study showed that in some countries 10-12 year olds spend up to more than three hours per day on 'screen activities', and in that study and a second paper we reported that children from lower educated parents and of foreign ethnicity have higher screen times. 'Active gaming' may be a good alternative to passive screen activities. Active video and electronic games require whole-body movement and may be an innovative tool to substitute sedentary pastime with more active time and may therefore contribute to adolescents' health. We are conducting a series of studies to test the potential mertits of active gaming for adolsecent health promotion. As a first step to inform strategies aimed at reducing sedentary behavior by replacing non-active with active gaming, perceptions and context of active and non-active gaming were explored in qualitative research using focus group interviews. The results were recently published in a scientific paper with Monique Simons as first author in the journal Games for Health.

The focus groups showed that adolescents had positive attitudes toward active gaming, especially the social interactive aspect, which was greatly appreciated. However, it appeared that many adolescents enjoyed non-active games more than active ones, mainly because of better game controls and more diversity in non-active games. Active games were primarily played when there was a social gathering. Few game-related rules and restrictions at home were reported.

Given the positive attitudes of adolescents and the limited restrictions for gaming at home, active videogames may potentially be used in a home setting as a tool to reduce sedentary behavior. However, to make active games as appealing as non-active games, attention should be paid to the quality, diversity, and sustainability of active games, as these aspects are currently inferior to those of traditional non-active games.