Saturday, January 19, 2013

How do children from lower educated parents differ in health behaviors from their peers?

It is well known that the prevalence of overweight and obesity is considerably higher among schoolchildren from lower socio-economic backgrounds. We recently reported such disparities among school-age children across 7 countries in Europe, and in another recent additional analysis we showed the same for an eight' country, namely Switzerland, that was reported in a recent scientific paper. In the first paper, published in Plos ONE, we also provided further evidence that children from lower educated parents are more likely to engage in behaviors that contribute to their higher risk for overweight and obesity. Now in a further study just published with Juan Fern├índez-Alvira as first author, we examined whether these behaviors, i.e. sugared drinks intake, physical activity, screen time and usual sleep duration cluster in reliable and meaningful ways among European children, and whether the identified clusters could be characterized by parental education.

We used the data from our ENERGY study, i.e. data from 5284 children (46% male), from the seven European countries. Cluster analysis was performed separately for girls and boys. Associations with parental education were identified using chi-square tests and odds ratios.
Five meaningful and stable clusters were found for both genders. More healthy behavior clusters were more likely among children from higher educated parents, while clusters with high sugared drinks consumption, high screen time and low sleep duration were more prevalent in the group with lower educated parents. 
Children with lower educated parents thus are more likely to engage in different joint behaviors that contribute to higher risk for overweight and obesity.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

who stops sports participation in adolescence?


Many youngsters stop engaging in sports during adolescence. In a study just published in e-pub in the European Journal of Public Health, with Dr. Rick Prins as first author, we explored who is more likely to stop doing sports in this age group. Data were obtained from the Environmental Determinants of Obesity in Rotterdam Schoolchildren (ENDORSE) study, and 357 adolescents were eligible for analysis. We looked at who were more likely to stop engaging in sports altogether, and who were more likely to reduce their sports activities so that they no longer comply to the recommendations to engage in vigorous physical activity to improve fitness for at least 3 time 20 minutes per week. 

Girls, lower-educated adolescents and those with a non-Western background showed more pronounced reductions in sports participation and compliance with the recommendation than boys, youngsters in forms of higher education, and native Dutch adolescents, respectively. Perceived neighborhood safety could partly explain the difference between girls and boys, indicating that one reason girls are more likely to reduce sports is related to feelings of (lack of) safety.