March 1, 2008
Several new projects are underway at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), including an analysis of a large, national data sample to examine children’s physical activity. Led by Georgia Hall, Ph.D., WCW senior research scientist, the project, Physical Activity over Time: Health Outcomes of Elementary School Children, funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), will analyze existing data sets from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development to examine the physical activity of youth.
Current research shows that growing numbers of children and adolescents lead sedentary lives and are likely to grow up to be sedentary adults. This secondary analysis will examine physical activity and health in third grade as a predictor of physical activity and health and establishment of physical activity habits in later elementary and middle school grades. This study will increase understanding of factors and mechanisms that influence changes in the physical well-being of contemporary youth that are associated with forming a habit of physical activity participation. The specific aims of the study are (1) to examine the relation between early profiles of physical activity and the subsequent profiles of physical activity; (2) to model the relation between change in physical activity patterns over time and children’s health and well-being, including BMI, weight-for-height development, body image, and general health; and (3) to identify environmental predictors of the development of healthy habits of physical activity and other health outcomes, including parental encouragement, opportunities for physical activity in multiple contexts (PE class, after school activities, organized sports), and competing alternatives (e.g., TV and computer use).The results of this study will inform the development of practices within school and out-of-school time settings that support children and adolescents to develop sustained habits of physical activity.
Since 1974, the Wellesley Centers for Women has been a driving force—both behind the scenes and in the spotlight—promoting positive change for women, children, and families. Work at WCW addresses three major areas: the status of women and girls and the advancement of their human rights both in the United States and around the globe; the education, care, and development of children and youth; and the emotional well-being of families and individuals. Issues of diversity and equity are central across all the work as are the experiences and perspectives of women from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.