Household socioeconomic status, car ownership, physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness


Associations between household socioeconomic status, car ownership, physical activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness in South African primary schoolchildren living in marginalized communities. News from the KaziAfya study

Little is known whether physical activity (PA)-promoting environments are equally accessible to children with divergent socioeconomic status (SES) in low-/middle-income countries. The authors therefore investigated whether South African children from poorer and less poor families living in marginalised communities differ in terms of moderate to vigorous PA and cardiorespiratory fitness. We also tested associations between family car ownership and PA/cardiorespiratory fitness.

Parents of 908 children (49% girls, mean age = 8.3 [1.4] years) completed a survey on household SES from the KaziAfya study. PA was assessed via 7-day accelerometry, parental and child self-reports, and cardiorespiratory fitness with the 20-m shuttle run test. Based on accelerometry, most children met current moderate to vigorous PA recommendations (≥60 min/day). About 73% of the children did not engage in structured physical education lessons. Whereas children of the lowest SES quintile accumulated higher levels of device-based moderate to vigorous PA, peers from the highest SES quintile engaged in more sedentary behaviors, but self-reported higher engagement in sports, dance, and moving games after school. Families’ car ownership was associated with higher parent/self-reported leisure-time PA.

A deeper understanding is needed about why less poor children are more sedentary, but simultaneously engage in more leisure-time PA. The fact that access to structural physical education is denied to most children is critical and needs to be addressed. The work was published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health and supported by the Botnar Foundation.

Gerber, M., Lang, C., Beckmann, J., Degen, J., du Randt, R., Gall, S., Long, K. Z., Müller, I., Nienaber, M., Steinmann, P., Pühse, U., Utzinger, J., Nqweniso, S., & Walter, C. (2021). Associations Between Household Socioeconomic Status, Car Ownership, Physical Activity, and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in South African Primary Schoolchildren Living in Marginalized Communities, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 1-12.