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Social inequalities in young children¿s sports participation and outdoor play

16 Dec 2014

Research on social inequalities in sports participation and unstructured physical activity among young children is scarce. This study aimed to assess the associations of family socioeconomic position (SEP) and ethnic background with children’s sports participation and outdoor play.
We analyzed data from 4726 ethnically diverse 6-year-old children participating in the Generation R Study. Variables were assessed by parent-reported questionnaires when the child was 6 years old. Low level of outdoor play was defined as outdoor play <1 hour per day. Series of multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to assess associations of family SEP and ethnic background with children’s sports participation and outdoor play.
Socioeconomic inequalities in children’s sports participation were found when using maternal educational level (p < 0.05), paternal educational level (p < 0.05), maternal employment status (p < 0.05), and household income (p < 0.05) as family SEP indicator (less sports participation among low SEP children). Socioeconomic inequalities in children’s outdoor play were found when using household income only (p < 0.05) (more often outdoor play <1 hour per day among children from low income household). All ethnic minority children were significantly more likely to not to participate in sports and play outdoor <1 hour per day compared with native Dutch children. Adjustment for family SEP attenuated associations considerably, especially with respect to sports participation.
Low SEP children and ethnic minority children are more likely not to participate in sports and more likely to display low levels of outdoor play compared with high SEP children and native Dutch children, respectively. In order to design effective interventions, further research, including qualitative studies, is needed to explore more in detail the pathways relating family SEP and ethnic background to children’s sports participation and outdoor play.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity