Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Rodney Lyn

Second Advisor

Wes Heath

Abstract

Abstract

Background:

Physical activity (PA) is a means to improve the overall health and well-being of adolescents. Daily PA helps decrease the risk of obesity, chronic diseases, and mental health disorders. However, adolescents are not participating in sufficient amounts of daily PA and negative health related conditions are becoming more prevalent. Youth spend the majority of their days at school. PA in the school environment is influenced by a number of factors including, break/free times, access to PA facilities, and allotted time for physical education (PE). Improving the factors that contribute to school-based PA levels may facilitate an increase in adolescent’s overall PA level. The purpose of this study is to determine if there is a relationship between access to school facilities for PA during free/lunch periods and MET scores of adolescents aged 12-15 years. A secondary purpose of this study is to determine if access to school facilities for PA during free/lunch periods is associated with body mass index (BMI).

Methods:

Data for this study were obtained from the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) National Youth Fitness Survey (NYFS). MET scores were computed by combing data for moderate and vigorous PA variables by assigning a MET score of 4.0 to moderate recreational activities, and an 8.0 to vigorous recreational activities. METS per week were computed by multiplying MET scores by minutes per week. To determine if mean MET scores or BMI differ significantly between those with and without access to PA, t-tests were conducted on the overall sample and were also stratified by gender.

Results:

Of the 1,640 participants included in the survey, 478 (242 Male, 236 Female) participants met inclusion criteria to be in the analysis of MET scores and BMI. Students with access to PA facilities had a mean MET score 124.71 lower than students without access to PA facilities (p= 0.64). Students with access to PA facilities had a mean BMI 0.49 lower than students without access to PA facilities (p= 0.31). Neither result is statistically significant.

Conclusion:

The findings of this analysis did not yield a statistically significant relationship between access to school PA facilities during lunch/free periods and MET scores or BMI. This was true of the overall analysis as well as gender stratified analyses. Boys engaged in more PA than females. Future studies should investigate how to increase PA in girls. Also, further investigation on the effect of the school environment on adolescents’ PA should be conducted. More data should be collected related to free/lunch period PA and whether adolescents have access to PA facilities.

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