Research Study Abstract

Mixing Methods to Provide a Holistic Understanding of Ethnic Differences in Physical Activity Behaviours of Girls aged 9-11 Years in Teesside

  • Presented on 2011

Introduction South Asian minority groups in the UK are at greater risk of heart disease and diabetes than the general White population. Physical activity plays an important role in the onset of these diseases. A recent study using accelerometers showed that girls had lower levels of physical activity than boys, and South Asian girls had lower levels of activity than White girls [1]. However, there is little information available to explain these differences.

This study sets out to provide objective measurements of differences in physical activity levels in White British and British Pakistani girls aged 9-11 years, and by using a range of mixed methods aims to provide a more holistic understanding of physical activity behaviour within these groups. We chose to include only British Pakistani girls as there is good reason to expect important differences between different South Asian groups.

Methods Eighty White British and 80 British Pakistani girls were recruited from primary schools on Teesside. The Actigraph GT3, was used to collect objective measurements of physical activity levels and sedentary behaviour for 2 weekend and 2 week days. Three 24-hour activity recalls, including 1 weekend day, were used to characterized types of physical activity behaviour. The physical activity questionnaire for children (PAQ-C) provided self-rated measures of physical activity and variations in activity types. Focus groups were used to investigate differences in attitudes to physical activity. Break, lunch time and after school activity were observed. Parental interviews explored familial influences on children’s physical activity behavior.

Discussion and Conclusion Preliminary analyses of Actigraph data and PAQ-C results suggest that British Pakistani girls were less active than White girls. Actigraph data showed that differences in activity were greatest on Saturdays and after school, and recalls, focus groups and parental interviews are used to explain these patterns.

Using multiple mixed methods to investigate physical activity behaviours of white British and British Pakistani girls provides an understanding of differences in physical activity behaviours between the two groups and allows us to explore the sources of these differences. Such knowledge is vital for the development of effective interventions to increase levels of physical activity.

Reference [1] Owen C, Nightingale C, Rudnicka A, Cook D, Ekelund U, Whincup P. Ethnic and Gender differences in physical activity levels among 9-10-year-old children of white European, South Asian and African-Caribbean origin: the Child Heart Health Study in England. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2009; 38: 1082-1093.