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Purpose: To examine school socioeconomic status (SES) in relation to school physical activity-related practices and children's physical activity. Design: A cross-sectional design was used for this study. Setting: The study was set in 97 elementary schools (63% response rate) in two U.S. regions. Subjects: Of the children taking part in this study, 172 were aged 10.2 (standard deviation (SD) = 1.5) years; 51.7% were girls, and 69.2% were White non-Hispanic. Measures: School physical education (PE) teachers or principals responded to 15 yes/no questions on school physical activity-supportive practices. School SES (low, moderate, high) was derived from the percent of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. Children's moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during school was measured with accelerometers. Analysis: School level analyses involved linear and logistic regression; children's MVPA analyses used mixed effects regression. Results: Low-SES schools were less likely to have a PE teacher and had fewer physical activity-supportive PE practices than did high-SES schools (p < .05). Practices related to active travel to school were more favorable at low-SES schools (p < .05). Children attending high-SES schools had 4.4 minutes per day more of MVPA during school than did those at low-SES schools, but this finding was not statistically significant (p = .124). Conclusion: These findings suggest that more low- and moderate-SES elementary schools need PE teachers in order to reduce disparities in school physical activity opportunities and that PE time needs to be supplemented by classroom teachers or other staff to meet guidelines.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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