Background: Alarming secular declines in physical activity (PA) have been observed among youth over the last decade. A better understanding of the predictors of these declines is crucial to identifying those children most at risk and to developing interventions that target youth before the onset of decline. This report identifies 1- and 2-year predictors of decline in PA among fourth- and fifth-grade students from inner-city neighborhoods in Montreal, Canada.
Methods: Data for this study were collected in classroom questionnaires each May/June from 1993 to 1997. Analyses for this paper were completed in 2001. The cohort included active (at least one PA per day) children with baseline and 1-year (n =1873) or 2-year (n =509) follow-up data.
Results: In boys, 1-year predictors of decline to an inactive status identified in generalized estimating equations analysis included moderate (vs high) baseline PA (odds ratio [OR]=1.66, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.91-3.05); low PA self-efficacy (OR=1.67, 95% CI=1.03-2.71); born outside Canada (OR=2.13; 95% CI=1.31-3.46); Asian origin (OR=1.81; 95% CI=1.03-3.16) and no participation in school teams (OR=1.81, 95% CI=0.93-3.55). In girls, these 1-year predictors included moderate PA (OR=1.91, 95% CI=1.10-3.32); low PA self-efficacy (OR=1.70, 95% CI=1.15-2.49); watching four or more TV programs per day (OR=1.40, 95% CI=0.97-2.02); mother unemployed (OR=1.54, 95% CI=1.07-2.23); and grade five (vs grade four) (OR=1.35, 95% CI=0.94-1.93). Two-year predictors in boys included moderate baseline PA (OR=2.52, 95% CI=0.84-7.50), and born outside Canada (OR=1.96, 95% CI=0.91-4.20). In girls, these 2-year predictors included moderate baseline PA (OR=2.75, 95% CI=1.01-7.49); no participation in school teams (OR=2.14, 95% CI=0.92-5.00); watching four or more TV programs per day (OR=1.93, 95% CI=0.99-3.74); and born outside Canada (OR=1.85, 95% CI=0.96-3.55).
Conclusions: Reduced TV viewing among girls and increased participation in school sports teams in boys and girls may prevent declines in PA among pre-adolescents from inner-city neighborhoods.