Brescia professor involved in research that documents factors contributing to the screen-related sedentary behaviors of children

February 18, 2010

In an article published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior   in January, Dr. Leonard Piché, co-author and a professor of Foods &   Nutrition at Brescia University College, reported findings from research that   indicate that factors such as leisure-time computer use and television viewing   contribute significantly to childhood sedentary behavior.

This study is the first of its kind to quantitatively document factors such   as children’s attitudes, social influences, and intentions regarding   screen-related behaviors among Canadian children, and the research has been   documented in three published articles. The research was funded by the Canadian   Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

The team was led by Dr. Meizi He of the Department of Health and Kinesiology at the University of Texas at San Antonio and Dr. Stewart Harris at the Schulich School of Medicine at The University of Western Ontario, with Leonard Piché, and   Charlene Beynon, director of the Public Health Research Education and   Development Program (PHRED) with the Middlesex London Health Unit. They surveyed more   than 500 pairs of Grades 5 and 6 students, their parents, their classroom   teachers, and school principals in London. They found that about 75 per cent of   children surveyed spend more than the Canadian Pediatric Society’s recommended   maximum of two hours per day sitting and viewing screens.

Over a one-week period, children spent an average of more than three hours   per day engaged in screen-related activities such as playing video games,   watching television, and leisure-time computer usage. These sedentary activities   decrease time spent on physical activity and such behaviors may be affecting the   health of Canadian children – nearly one in three is overweight or obese.

More than 95 per cent of the children who participated in the research   acknowledged the importance of physical activity and more than two thirds of the   children said they would spend more time in physical activities if they were   “given the choice.” Almost 75 per cent of girls said they would engage in more   physical activity, compared to 65 per cent of boys. This finding was a   revelation to the research team. “It was a little bit surprising that there was   a statistically significant difference between boys and girls when asked if they   would engage in more physical activity if given the choice. More girls than boys   said they would choose to be more active. Nobody knew this,” Piché said.

Parents play a key role in providing options for physical activity and in   shaping children’s screen-viewing behaviours. For example, placing limits on TV   viewing is particularly important in early childhood, since TV viewing   contributes to the greatest percentage of total screen time. Piché said,   “Younger children are still very much influenced by their parents. I would   certainly encourage the parents to get involved in physical activities with   their children. For example, Family Day created an opportunity for families to   get outdoors and go tobogganing or enjoy other winter activities.”

The study also showed that the vast majority of parents feel their   neighborhoods are safe. The question, then, is what are the facilitators and   barriers to having more choices to become more physically active? “If the   parents think it’s a safe environment and the kids say that ‘given the choice’   they would become more physically active, why isn’t it happening? This opens the   door for more research,” said Piché.

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Brescia  University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated  with The University   of Western Ontario. The  1,100 women registered as either full or part-time students at Brescia study a wide  variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and  invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all  backgrounds and values diversity. For more information, please visit www.brescia.uwo.ca

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Len Piché                                                         519.432.8353, ext. 28284                                                         E-mail: lpiche@uwo.ca

Title: Screen-related Sedentary Behaviours: Children’s and Parents’ Attitudes, Motivation, and Practices

 

Authors: Meizi  He, Leonard Piché, Charlene Beynon, Stewart Harris

 

Journal: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior