Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Individual and family environmental correlates of TV and screen time among European children

Too much sitting, and especially too much time behind the TV or other 'screen-based' activities, may increase risk for cardiometabolic ill health. In order to design interventions to encourage and facilitate school-age children to spend less time behind screens, we aimed to investigate which individual and family environmental factors are related to television and computer time among 10- to-12-year-old children within and across five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Norway). A paper describing this study was just published in the journal BMC Public Health, with Dr. Maite Verloigne as first author.
Data were used from the ENERGY-project. Children and one of their parents completed a questionnaire, including questions on screen time behaviours and related individual and family environmental factors.
In all countries, children reported more television and/or computer time, if children and their parents thought that the maximum recommended level for watching television and/or using the computer was higher and if children had a higher preference for television watching and/or computer use and a lower self-efficacy to control television watching and/or computer use. We also found different correlates across countries: parents watching TV together with their child was significantly positively associated with children’s television time in all countries, except for Greece. If parents watched more TV or spend more time behind other screens was associated with a higher level of children’s television and computer time in Hungary. Having parental rules regarding children’s television time was related to less television time in all countries, except for Belgium and Norway.

Reliability of a Photo-Rating Instrument for School Environments for Physical Activity and Healthy Eating

People's and especially children's health behaviours are importantly influenced by the environment they are exposed to. For example, in a school environment that offers ample opportunities for physical activity and health eating, and little opportunities for sedentariness and unhealthy snacking, children will be more likely to engage in health energy balance related behaviours. The school environment can thus play an important role in the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity. To further study the impact of such environments, measurement of the 'obesopreventive' characteristics of the school environment is important. Photos of the school environment may contribute to more adequate, systematic, objective measurement of the school environment, as photos can be rated by different assessors. In a study we recently published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, -with Dr. Teatske Altenburg as first author- we aimed to examine the inter-rater reliability for rating photo-based characteristics of primary school environments related to physical activity and eating.
Photos taken at 172 primary schools in seven European countries were rated according to a standardised protocol. Briefly, after categorising all photos in subsections of physical activity or eating opportunities, two researchers independently rated aspects of safety, functionality, aesthetics, type of food/drinks advertised, type/variety of foods provided. Inter-rater reliability was assessed using the intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) and Cohen's kappa.
Six subsections of the photo-rating instrument showed excellent or good inter-rater reliability. Outdoor physical activity facilities showed moderate, and school canteens and vending machines showed poor inter-rater reliability.
Inter-rater reliability of the ENERGY photo-rating instrument was thus good-to-excellent for six out of nine characteristics of primary school environment components related to physical activity and eating.