Reduced time dedicated to physical education and free play in recent decades emphasizes theneed to promote opportunities for sport participation in adolescents in order to increasephysical activity levels. The purpose of this study was to examine the association ofsociodemographic and biological characteristics, behavioural patterns, and school-related andsport-specific variables with time spent participating in sport.
A total of 1837 secondary school students (age: 14.6 ± 1.2 years; 50.9 % boys) from 19 of 23schools in the Otago Region (New Zealand) completed an online sport survey and YouthPhysical Activity Questionnaire in 2009. Using multilevel modeling, we examined theassociation of individual-, school- and sport-related variables on sport participation and theamount of time spent in sports.
Higher rates of sport participation were associated with lower neighbourhood deprivationscores (OR (95%CI): 0.75 (0.49-1.14), 0.57 (0.38-0.86), 0.48 (0.28-0.81)), higher quintiles ofphysical activity (2.89 (2.10-3.96), 2.81 (1.68-4.70), 3.54 (2.24-5.57), 3.97 (1.99-7.95)),highest quintiles of screen time (1.58 (0.94-2.65), 1.99 (1.42-2.80), 2.17 (1.43-3.30), 1.88(1.37-2.57)) and boys only school status (2.21 (1.57-3.10)). Greater amount of time spent insports was associated with male gender (0.56 (0.43-0.74), lower neighbourhood deprivationscores (0.72 (0.59-0.93), 0.78 (0.58-1.04), 0.62 (0.39-1.00)), higher quintiles of physicalactivity (3.18 (2.29-4.41), 4.25 (2.91-6.20), 8.33 (5.58-12.44), 6.58 (4.07-10.64)), highestquintile of screen time (1.83 (1.31-2.56), greater availability of sports outside school (1.68(1.22-2.32)), better sport management (2.57 (1.63-4.07)) and provision of sport courts atschool (0.57 (0.40-0.81)). Conversely, obesity was associated with less time spentparticipating in sport (0.50 (0.31-0.80)).
Results support the use of sport participation as an effective strategy to increase physicalactivity levels and identify target groups and areas for interventions, program design andpolicy development. Interventions should focus on improving accessibility to sport programsfor all adolescents, providing adequate sport grounds at school, and promoting good sportmanagement practices. Programs and policies encouraging sport participation should addressin particular the needs of adolescents living in deprived neighborhoods, those attendingcoeducational and girls-only schools, and those who are obese.