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Media Release

September 05 2011

New research to keep teenage girls active

Jim Dollman interviewing students.Pinpointing why some teenage girls are able to keep up healthy physical activity levels while the majority of their peers are doing less is the focus of a new UniSA study.

Chief Investigator Dr Jim Dollman from UniSA’s School of Health Sciences says the study is unique because it concentrates on how some teenage girls are able to resist the trend of less physical activity, as opposed to trying to discover why the drop in activity occurs.

“We know that in the transition from primary school to high school there is a significant decrease in the amount of activity among teenage girls, with only 50 per cent meeting recommended activity levels by this stage of their development,” Dr Dollman said.

“We’ve found that we learn a lot from children and their families who maintain healthy lifestyles, so we’re trying to gather information by speaking to those who are defying the trends so that these traits and strategies can be used to help others.

“Then we can look at how to apply these positive traits to programs to promote physical activity, because current strategies are meeting with very limited success.”

UniSA’s Division of Health Sciences received a $65,000 grant from the Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation to carry out the study entitled Exploring predictors of physical activity attrition and maintenance among females in early adolescence.

The study will assess the activity levels of 200 girls in years seven and eight between September and November this year, and the plan is to re-visit these young people in 2012.

Data collection will take place in the schools and home, and will include the girls’ physical activity patterns as well as parent questionnaires that explore aspects of the home and neighbourhood that might influence children’s activity. Geographic Information Systems technology will also be used to gather specific details about the girls’ neighbourhood such as how much green space surrounds the home, traffic and walk-ability of the area.

“The study is ground-breaking as it will examine why some young females are able to stay active while others cannot, and will look at the natural strategies that have evolved in families and neighbourhoods to explain this,” Dr Dollman said.


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