"Are Thai children and youth sufficiently active? Prevalence and correlates of physical activity from a nationally representative cross-sectional study"

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Background: Children and youth gain multiple health benefits from regular participation in physical activity (PA). However, in Thailand there is limited national data on children and youth's PA behaviors and recent reports suggest that Thai children and youth have low levels of PA. Furthermore, there is almost no data on the factors associated with inactivity to support the development of a Thai National PA Plan. The purpose of this paper is to investigate Thai children and youth's participation in PA and its correlates across sociodemographic characteristics and different PA domains. Methods: This study applied a cross-sectional study design with a multi-stage stratified cluster sampling. A national representative sample of 13,255 children and youth aged 6-17 years were used for data analysis. A previously validated questionnaire was used to assess PA prevalence. Logistic regression was conducted to examine the relationships of socio-demographic factors, and participation in different PA domains with overall PA. Results: Only 23.4% of Thai children and youth met recommended levels of PA and there were large gender and regional differences. PA levels generally declined with age, although the level observed in the 10-13 year group was slightly higher than other year groups. A majority of children and youth engaged in a large number of different activities across PA domains. Sex, age, BMI, geographical regions, organized sports, participation in sport and recreational activities were significant predictors of meeting the global PA guidelines, whereas participation in physical education, active transport, and the number of screen time activities had no association. Girls were less likely to achieve sufficient PA levels (OR = 0.49, 95%CI; 0.45-0.54, p < 0.001), as were obese children (OR = 0.78, 95%CI; 0.64-0.94, p = 0.01), children living in the West (OR = 0.47, 95%CI; 0.38-0.59, p < 0.001), and those who did no participation in organized sports and sport/exercise activities, or minimal participation (1-2 activities) in recreational activities (OR = 0.79, 95%CI; 0.68-0.90, p < 0.001). Conclusions: The prevalence estimate of meeting the recommended guideline of sufficient PA in Thai children and youth is low, despite the high levels of engagement in a large number of PA. The results indicate that policy and interventions aimed at increasing PA are needed with special attention required to address specific groups less likely to meet the PA guideline. Strategies to promote a large volume of participation in all possible types of PA as part of Thai children and youth's daily life should be considered.

Peer-reviewedYes
Original languageEnglish
Article number72
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 30 May 2017


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