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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity

, 3:20

First Online: 31 July 2006Received: 06 January 2006Accepted: 31 July 2006


BackgroundRising obesity and declining physical activity levels are of great concern because of the associated health risks. Many children are left unsupervised after the school day ends, but little is known about the association between unsupervised time and physical activity levels. This paper seeks to determine whether adolescent girls who are without adult supervision after school are more or less active than their peers who have a caregiver at home.

MethodsA random sample of girls from 36 middle schools at 6 field sites across the U.S. was selected during the fall of the 2002–2003 school year to participate in the baseline measurement activities of the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls TAAG. Information was collected using six-day objectively measured physical activity, self-reported physical activity using a three-day recall, and socioeconomic and psychosocial measures. Complete information was available for 1422 out of a total of 1596 respondents.

Categorical variables were analyzed using chi square and continuous variables were analyzed by t-tests. The four categories of time alone were compared using a mixed linear model controlling for clustering effects by study center.

ResultsGirls who spent more time after school ≥2 hours per day, ≥2 days per week without adult supervision were more active than those with adult supervision p = 0.01. Girls alone for ≥2 hours after school, ≥2 days a week, on average accrue 7.55 minutes more moderate to vigorous physical activity MVPA per day than do girls who are supervised 95% confidence interval C.I. These results adjusted for ethnicity, parent-s education, participation in the free-reduced lunch program, neighborhood resources, or available transportation. Unsupervised girls n = 279 did less homework 53.1% vs. 63.3%, spent less time riding in a car or bus 48.0% vs. 56.6%, talked on the phone more 35.5% vs. 21.1%, and watched more television 59.9% vs. 52.6% than supervised girls n = 569. However, unsupervised girls also were more likely to be dancing 14.0% vs. 9.3% and listening to music 20.8% vs. 12.0% p < .05.

ConclusionGirls in an unsupervised environment engaged in fewer structured activities and did not immediately do their homework, but they were more likely to be physically active than supervised girls. These results may have implications for parents, school, and community agencies as to how to structure activities in order to encourage teenage girls to be more physically active.

AbbreviationsTAAGTrial of Activity for Adolescent Girls

MVPAModerate to vigorous physical activity

3DPARThree day physical activity recall

PROCMIXEDMixed Procedures

Berenice R Rushovich, Carolyn C Voorhees, CE Davis, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Karin A Pfeiffer, John P Elder, Scott Going and Vivian G Marino contributed equally to this work.

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Autor: Berenice R Rushovich - Carolyn C Voorhees - CE Davis - Dianne Neumark-Sztainer - Karin A Pfeiffer - John P Elder - Scott


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