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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act ; 20(1): 42, 2023 04 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2297041


BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in marked impacts on children's physical activity, with large reductions in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) reported during lockdowns. Previous evidence showed children's activity levels were lower and sedentary time higher immediately post-COVID lockdown, while there was little change in parental physical activity. We need to know if these patterns persist. METHODS: Active-6 is a natural experiment using repeated cross-sectional data conducted in two waves. Accelerometer data were collected on 393 children aged 10-11 and their parents from 23 schools in Wave 1 (June 2021-December 2021), and 436 children and parents from 27 schools in Wave 2 (January 2022-July 2022). These were compared to a pre-COVID-19 comparator group (March 2017-May 2018) of 1,296 children and parents in the same schools. Mean minutes of accelerometer-measured MVPA and sedentary time were derived for week- and weekend-days and compared across waves via linear multilevel models. We also analysed the date of data collection as a time series, to explore temporal patterns via generalised additive mixed models. RESULTS: There was no difference in children's mean MVPA in Wave 2 (weekdays: -2.3 min; 95% CI: -5.9, 1.3 and weekends: 0.6 min; 95% CI: -3.5, 4.6) when compared to the pre-COVID-19 data. Sedentary time remained higher than pre-pandemic by 13.2 min (95% CI:5.3, 21.1) on weekdays. Differences compared to pre-COVID-19 changed over time, with children's MVPA decreasing over winter, coinciding with COVID-19 outbreaks, and only returning to pre-pandemic levels towards May/June 2022. Parents' sedentary time and weekday MVPA was similar to pre-COVID-19 levels, with MVPA higher than pre-pandemic by 7.7 min (95% CI: 1.4, 14.0) on weekends. CONCLUSION: After an initial drop, children's MVPA returned to pre-pandemic levels by July 2022, while sedentary time remained higher. Parents' MVPA remained higher, especially at weekends. The recovery in physical activity is precarious and potentially susceptible to future COVID-19 outbreaks or changes in provision, and so robust measures to protect against future disruptions are needed. Furthermore, many children are still inactive, with only 41% meeting UK physical activity guidelines, and so there is still a need to increase children's physical activity.

COVID-19 , Sedentary Behavior , Humans , Child , Cross-Sectional Studies , Pandemics , Accelerometry , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control , Exercise , Parents
BMC Public Health ; 23(1): 116, 2023 01 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2196194


BACKGROUND: Restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have led to increased screen-viewing among children, especially during strict periods of lockdown. However, the extent to which screen-viewing patterns in UK school children have changed post lockdowns is unclear. The aim of this paper is to examine how screen-viewing changed in 10-11-year-old children over the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic, how this compares to before the pandemic, and the influences on screen-viewing behaviour. METHODS: This is a mixed methods study with 10-11-year-olds from 50 schools in the Greater Bristol area, UK. Cross-sectional questionnaire data on minutes of weekday and weekend television (TV) viewing and total leisure screen-viewing were collected pre-COVID-19 in 2017-18 (N = 1,296) and again post-lockdowns in 2021 (N = 393). Data were modelled using Poisson mixed models, adjusted for age, gender, household education and seasonality, with interactions by gender and household education. Qualitative data were drawn from six focus groups (47 children) and 21 one-to-one parent interviews that explored screen-viewing behaviour during the pandemic and analysed using the framework method. RESULTS: Total leisure screen-viewing was 11% (95% CI: 12%-18%) higher post-lockdown compared to pre-COVID-19 on weekdays, and 8% (95% CI: 6%-10%) on weekends, equating to around 12-15 min. TV-viewing (including streaming) was higher by 68% (95% CI: 63%-74%) on weekdays and 80% (95% CI: 75%-85%) on weekend days. Differences in both were higher for girls and children from households with lower educational attainment. Qualitative themes reflected an unavoidable increase in screen-based activities during lockdowns, the resulting habitualisation of screen-viewing post-lockdown, and the role of the parent in reducing post-2020/21 lockdown screen-viewing. CONCLUSIONS: Although screen-viewing was higher post-lockdown compared to pre-COVID-19, the high increases reported during lockdowns were not, on average, sustained post-lockdown. This may be attributed to a combination of short-term fluctuations during periods of strict restrictions, parental support in regulating post-lockdown behaviour and age-related, rather than COVID-19-specific, increases in screen-viewing. However, socio-economic differences in our sample suggest that not all families were able to break the COVID-19-related adoption of screen-viewing, and that some groups may need additional support in managing a healthy balance of screen-viewing and other activities following the lockdowns.

COVID-19 , Computers , Female , Humans , Child , Cross-Sectional Studies , Pandemics/prevention & control , Sedentary Behavior , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control , Surveys and Questionnaires , United Kingdom/epidemiology , Television
Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act ; 19(1): 114, 2022 09 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2009422


BACKGROUND: Active-6 is exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted physical activity behaviour among Year 6 children (aged 10-11 years) and their parents in Southwest England. Initial findings from the Active-6 project have shown a 7-8 min decrease in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and an increase in sedentary behaviour among children following the easing of restrictions in the UK in latter half of 2021. This finding suggests that the pandemic has had a persistent impact on child physical activity behaviour. This paper explored the possible mechanisms behind these changes. METHODS: Interviews with parents (n = 21), members of school staff (n = 9) and focus groups with children aged 10-11 years (n = 47) were conducted between August and December 2021 to discuss the impact of the pandemic on child physical activity behaviour. The framework method was used for analysis. RESULTS: Five themes spanning two key stages of the pandemic were described. Three themes related to the period of lockdowns and fluctuating restrictions (March 2020 - April 2021). These included: Theme 1) Lockdown: A short-lived adventure; Theme 2) Access to facilities during restrictions; and Theme 3) The importance of the parent. A further two themes were identified related to the period following the gradual easing of restrictions in April 2021. These included: Theme 4) An overwhelming return to normal; and Theme 5) Reopening fatigue. CONCLUSIONS: The analysis suggested that feelings of novelty experienced during the initial stages of lockdown waned as restrictions were prolonged, creating an increasingly challenging period for parents and their children. However, during periods of restrictions, the importance of parental encouragement and access to appropriate facilities in the local and home environment helped facilitate physical activity. Following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, emotional overwhelm and physical fatigue among children, stemming from a sedentary and socially isolated life in lockdown and other restrictions, were key contributors to the decreased moderate to vigorous physical activity and increased sedentary behaviour that was observed in a related quantitative study.

COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Child , Communicable Disease Control , Exercise , Fatigue , Humans , Pandemics , United Kingdom/epidemiology
Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act ; 19(1): 51, 2022 05 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1846845


BACKGROUND: Restrictions due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic reduced physical activity provision for both children and their parents. Recent studies have reported decreases in physical activity levels during lockdown restrictions, but these were largely reliant on self-report methods, with data collected via unrepresentative self-report surveys. The post-pandemic impacts on children's activity levels remain unknown. A key question is how active children become once lockdown restrictions are lifted. METHODS: Active-6 is a repeated cross-sectional natural experiment. Accelerometer data from 1296 children aged 10-11 and their parents were collected in 50 schools in the Greater Bristol area, UK in March 2017-May 2018 (pre-COVID-19 comparator group), and compared to 393 children aged 10-11 and parents in 23 of the same schools, collected in May-December 2021. Mean minutes of accelerometer-measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) were derived for weekdays and weekend and compared pre- and post-lockdown via linear multilevel models. RESULTS: After adjusting for seasonality, accelerometer wear time and child/parent demographics, children's mean weekday and weekend MVPA were 7.7 min (95% CI: 3.5 to 11.9) and 6.9 min (95% CI: 0.9 to 12.9) lower in 2021 than in 2018, respectively, while sedentary time was higher by 25.4 min (95% CI: 15.8 to 35.0) and 14.0 min (95% CI: 1.5 to 26.5). There was no evidence that differences varied by child gender or household education. There was no significant difference in parents' MVPA or sedentary time, either on weekdays or weekends. CONCLUSIONS: Children's MVPA was lower by 7-8 min/day in 2021 once restrictions were lifted than before the pandemic for all groups, on both weekdays and weekends. Previous research has shown that there is an undesirable age-related decline in children's physical activity. The 8-min difference reported here would be broadly comparable to the decline that would have previously been expected to occur over a three-year period. Parents' physical activity was similar to pre-pandemic levels. Our results suggest that despite easing of restrictions, children's activity levels have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. There is an urgent need to understand why these changes have occurred and how long they are maintained.

COVID-19 , Sedentary Behavior , Accelerometry , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Child , Communicable Disease Control , Cross-Sectional Studies , Exercise , Humans , Parents , United Kingdom/epidemiology