Childhood Obesity and Physical Activity-Friendly School Environments

Patrick Ip*, Frederick Ka Wing Ho, Lobo H T LOUIE, Thomas Wai Hung Chung, Yiu Fai Cheung, So Lun Lee, Stanley Sai Chuen Hui, Walter King Yan Ho, Daniel Sai Yin Ho, Wilfred Hing Sang Wong, Fan Jiang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Childhood obesity may be related to school environment, but previous studies often focused on food environment only. This study aimed to examine the relationship between school physical activity environment and childhood obesity. Study design This is a cross-sectional study with multilevel data collected on school physical activity environment using teacher questionnaires, students' growth, and obesity status from electronic health records, and neighborhood socioeconomic status from census data. Results This study included 208 280 students (6-18 years of age) from 438 schools (45% of Hong Kong). Prevalence of obesity was 5.0%. After controlling for socioeconomic status and intraschool correlation, robust Poisson regression revealed a reduced obesity risk associated with higher teachers' perceived physical activity benefits (risk ratio 0.96, 95% CI 0.94-0.99, P =.02), physical activity teaching experience (0.93, 0.91-0.96, P <.001), school campus size (0.93, 0.87-0.99, P =.02), physical activity ethos (0.91, 0.88-0.94, P <.001), number of physical activity programs (0.93, 0.90-0.96, P <.001), and physical activity facilities (0.87, 0.84-0.90, P <.001). Students in schools with at least 3 physical activity-friendly environmental factors (11.7%) had a much lower risk of obesity (0.68, 0.62-0.75, P <.001) than those without (23.7%). Conclusions A physical activity-friendly school environment is associated with lower risk of obesity. School physical activity environment should be considered in future epidemiologic and intervention studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

User-Defined Keywords

  • childhood obesity
  • Chinese
  • physical activity
  • school environment


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