Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Can ethnic differences in children’s body composition be explained by differences in eating, physical activity, sedentary or sleeping?

In earlier research published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, we have found that -across Europe and in other affluent countries- children from non-native ethnicity are in general more likely to be overweight or obese, and to have unhealthy eating , physical activity and sleeping patterns than 'native' children. In further analyses just published in the journal PLOS One, with Juan Miguel Fern├índez-Alvira as first author, we explored if differences in eating, physical activity, sedentary and/or sleeping behaviors according to ethnic background can explain the ethnic differences in overweight and obesity. We conducted mediation analyses on the data of the ENERGY cross sectional study, a cross-European study among 10-12 year old schoolchildren and their parents across eight countries in Europe. For this study we used only data from the countries where ethnic differences in overweight and obesity were most prominent: Greece and the Netherlands. In these two country the ethnic differences were, however, in the opposite direction. As we published before in PLOS One, in Greece -the country with the highest prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity-, children from ethnic minorities are less likely to be overweight or obese than native Greek children. In the Netherlands -a country with relatively low prevalence of overweight and obesity-, ethnic minority children are more likely to be overweight or obese than native Dutch children. In the now published paper in the same journal, we show ethnic differences in children’s body composition were partially mediated by differences in breakfast skipping in the Netherlands and sugared drinks intake, sports participation and sleep duration in Greece.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Children's physical activity and sedentary time, home and neighborhood environments in urban and rural areas.

The environments children live in, their home as well as their school and neighborhood environments, are likely to influence what they do and do not do. A library of research now suggests that such environments influence children's physical activities and sedentary behaviors. How -via what kind of causal pathways- such influences come about, is, however, certainly not well researched and thus not clear. In a study just published online in the scientific journal Health and Place, first authored by Prof. Jo Salmon, Deakin University, Melbourne, we studied associations of home and neighbourhood READI) study, i.e. a cohort of women (aged 18–45 years) and their children (5–12 years). 613 children and their mothers participated. Urban children had higher screen time (i.e. TV and computer time) than rural children. In rural areas access to physical activity equipment in the home was higher, and mothers set better examples for their children regarding PA, had better knowledge of the neighborhood, a stronger social network, and reported higher safety than urban mothers.  Among urban children, the importance of doing PA together as a family was positively associated with ST. Interventions targeting PA and ST may need to target different factors according to urban/rural location.
environments with children's physical activity (PA), and sedentary time (ST). We also investigated if such associations were different for children living in urban vs. rural locations. Data were from the the Resilience for Eating and Activity Despite Inequality (