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The Influence of the Home Physical Environment on Children’s Sedentary Behaviour
Recent changes in home physical environments, such as decreasing private outdoor space, and increasing electronic media, may negatively affect health by facilitating sedentariness and reducing activity. In Australia, back yard size has decreased and new houses with multiple indoor living areas designated for sedentary electronic media pursuits, such as TV viewing and computer use, are now commonplace. As children spend much of their time at home they may be particularly vulnerable to the impact of the home environment.
Ecological models highlight the influence of environment on behaviour and more recently have been used to understand the range of influences on sedentariness and physical activity. This study will use an ecological framework to investigate the influence of the home physical environment on the sedentary behaviours and activity of children aged 9-12 years at home.
The PhD includes three phases: (1) a qualitative study with families to explore perceptions of how the home physical environment influences children’s sedentary behaviour and activity at home; (2) the development and testing of an audit tool to measure features of the home physical environment; and (3) the investigation of the relationship between different types of home physical environments and the time children spend in sedentary behaviour and activity. The final phase of the study will include data collected using the home audit tool, accelerometers and radio frequency identification (RFID) systems.
Many children do not meet public health recommendations for time spent in physical activity and spend too much time sitting without interruption, particularly while using electronic media for entertainment. The results of this research will have potential to inform home design and planning policy to facilitate children’s activity at home and to guide future health promotion interventions that aim to decrease sedentary behaviour and increase activity in children.