Online Program

How Physical activity is associated with severe school absenteeism

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Andrew Hansen, DrPH, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health - Community Health Behavior and Education, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Tony Pritchard, Ed.D., CSCS, Health and Kinesiology, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Irina Melnic, MPH, Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Services, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
Jian Zhang, MD, DrPH, MSc, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health - Epidemiology, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Introduction:  Physical activity is positively associated with improved school performance.  School absenteeism is negatively associated with academic performance.  Few studies have assessed the effects of physical activity on school absenteeism.  The purpose of this study was to explore the independent relationship of physical activity on school absenteeism.  Methods: Data assessed from NHANES 2005-2008 surveys included proxy interviews, usually mothers, of 1048 children aged 6-11 years.  Adolescents (N=1117) aged 12-18 years provided self-reports.  Students absent ≥ 10 percent of school days over the course of a school year met the defined criteria for severe school absenteeism (SSA).  Normal attendance, moderate and serve absences were used as the three-level categorical dependent variable.  Physical activity was assessed with the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire and converted to METs.  Combined and independent associations were assessed using a polytomous logistic regression model with generalized logit.  Results:  Inactive (≤ 3 days per week) children ages 6-11 years were at an increased odds [OR=12.4 (1.43 – 108)] of SSA compared to children engaging in medium amounts (4-6 times per week) of physical activity.  Highly active children (≥ 7 times per week) were also at an increased odds [14.8 (2.82 – 77.7)] for SSA. Discussion: The implications of physical inactivity appear to go beyond obesity and academic performance. The increased odds of SSA with high activity levels requires careful consideration to help educators properly understand and target underlying causes which may include overcommitted children, stress, and parent pressure.  Why similar results were not observed in adolescents needs further evaluation.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Discuss risk factors associated with school absenteeism. Compare methods for categorizing physical activity and absenteeism levels. Differentiate between physical activity volume, intensity, and physical fitness.

Keyword(s): School-Based Health, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an assistant professor of community health behavior and education with doctoral level training in quantitative and qualitative research, and public and school health. I teach pubic health classes and have taught public school and health education. I conduct research and have publications related to physical activity, nutrition, and obesity which include a diverse populations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.