Determinants of physical activity in children and adolescents: implications for the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity

Brandon S Shaw, Ina Shaw

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    Regular physical activity has long been regarded as an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Despite this evidence and the public s apparent awareness of the importance of physical activity, millions of children and adolescents remain sedentary leading to the development of numerous diseases of lifestyle, such as obesity. Clinical management and public health strategies to combat the problem of childhood obesity have been overtaken by the speed and scale of the epidemic. However, there is a mismatch between the scale of the problem and comparatively weak and belated strategies for dealing with childhood obesity. As such, the increasing prevalence and serious consequences of childhood obesity has prompted calls for broad public health solutions that reach beyond clinical settings. In this regard, the present study identified the determinants of child and adolescent participation in physical activity. A systematic review of the literature was undertaken based primarily on the PubMed/CINAHL/PsycINFO/ProQuest databases. Previously, a typology for understanding the multitude of factors which may influence child and adolescent physical activity patterns has been proposed that considers determinants at four levels, namely; physiological, psychological, socio-cultural and ecological. Although more studies investigating the determinants of child and adolescent participation in physical activity are needed, current evidence suggests that within each of these four determinants, numerous factors such as physical maturation and age, gender differences, ethnicity, self-efficacy, family factors, peer factors, socio-economic status and the school setting can and do act as barriers to child and adolescent participation in physical activity possibly explaining the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)91 - 101
    Number of pages11
    JournalAfrican Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance
    Issue numberSuppl 2
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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