Driving up obesity? Exploring the relationship between school travel mode, physical activity and weight status in children

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[Truncated abstract] Discouraging car travel and promoting active school transport (AST) (i.e., walking or cycling to and from school) has been posited as a practical and convenient solution for increasing children's physical activity (PA) and preventing excess weight gain. However, studies examining the association between AST, PA and weight status have produced mixed results. Furthermore, it is not clear if the relationship between AST, PA and weight status is different for boys and girls. In order to develop appropriate and effective child PA and obesity interventions, further empirical evidence is needed to inform decisions on whether to target AST. A number of individual and family factors (e.g. child attitudes towards AST and perceptions of safety, scheduling commitments), social factors (e.g., social and cultural norms, parental attitudes and safety concerns) and environmental factors (e.g., walkability of school neighbourhood, distance and traffic safety) may influence the level of AST. Generally, these factors have not been widely assessed, concurrently, using a multi-level ecological approach. Initiatives to promote an AST require an understanding of the factors that influence decisions about a child's trip to school and most importantly which, if any, are amenable to change. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between school travel mode, PA and weight status in primary school aged children. A secondary aim was to use an ecological framework to investigate individual, social and environmental factors associated with AST.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
StateUnpublished - 2012


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