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Age and Gender Differences in the Physical Activity Patterns of Urban Schoolchildren in Korea and China

  • Yamauchi Taro
    Department of Human Ecology, University of Tokyo
  • Kim Soo-Nam
    School of Physical Education, Kangwon National University
  • Lu Zhongfan
    College of Physical Education and Sports, Liaoning Normal University
  • Ichimaru Naoto
    Research Center of Physical Culture, Fukuoka University of Education
  • Maekawa Ryuichi
    Environmental Ergonomics Laboratory, Hokkaido University
  • Natsuhara Kazumi
    Department of Community and International Nursing, Fukuoka Prefectural University
  • Ohtsuka Ryutaro
    National Institute for Environmental Studies
  • Zhou Huan
    Huaxi College of Public Health, Sichuan University
  • Yokoyama Shintaro
    Environmental Ergonomics Laboratory, Hokkaido University
  • Yu Wenquan
    College of Physical Education and Sports, Liaoning Normal University
  • He Minxue
    College of Physical Education and Sports, Liaoning Normal University
  • Kim She-Hwan
    School of Physical Education, Kangwon National University
  • Ishii Masaru
    Research Center of Physical Culture, Fukuoka University of Education

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Abstract

Physical activity in childhood is important as it may establish adult behavior. However, few studies on physical activity in children have been conducted, especially in Asian children.<br>We performed anthropometric measurements of 159 school children in two grades (grade 5: 10–11 years old and grade 8: 13–14 years old) from urban areas of Korea (n=79) and China (n=80). The total daily energy expenditure (TEE) was estimated for 7 consecutive days using an accelerometer.<br>The mean height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) for boys and girls in both countries exceeded the US national reference median (CDC, 2000). Physical activity levels (PALs) were significantly higher in the grade 5 group (10–11 years old) and in girls than in boys for both grades. No significant difference in PALs or daily step-counts (STPs) was observed between ‘normal’ and ‘overweight’ subgroups based on BMI, although negative correlations were found between weight, BMI, or %body fat vs. PAL or STP among Korean girls and Chinese boys (r=0.32–0.38, all p<0.05). Daily variation in physical activity was observed in Korean children. In the Koreans (boys and girls, both grades pooled), TEE and STP were significantly lower than the 7-day average on Sundays, whereas for the Chinese population, STP did not clearly differ between the weekends and the week averages.<br>In summary, PALs were higher in the fifth grade boys and girls than in the eighth grade children; interestingly, girls tended to have higher PALs than boys. Daily variation in physical activity was observed in Korea; children were less active on Sundays.

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