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  • Author: Anna Oblacińska x
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Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour as Predictors of Adolescent Health in Rural and Urban Environments in Poland

While numerous studies have examined correlates of physical activity, less attention has been given to identifying the rural/urban differences in the strength of the relationship between physical activity and health. The main objective of the current study was to analyze relationships between physical activity, sedentary behavior, and the health of rural and urban adolescents. Cross-sectional data on physical activity (Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity, MVPA), sedentary behavior (watching TV and using a computer), self-rated general health, and mental health (General Health Questionnaire, GHQ-12) was assessed through a questionnaire in the sample of 600 Polish adolescents aged 13 years. Pearson χ2, t-Student tests and hierarchical regression analyses were used to compare differences by place of residence. No rural/urban differences in physical activity levels and self-rated health were found. Rural boys spent more time watching TV and urban adolescent males spent more time using a computer. Urban girls were more affected by stress than rural. Physical activity was an important predictor of self-assessed health (8% of variance) and mental health (4% of variance) of adolescents living in rural areas. The results show that physical activity level is an important predictor of rural adolescents’ health and particular attention must be paid to promoting physical activities in rural environments.


Nowadays, childhood obesity is one of the key health problems in European countries. This article presents a study that is part of the World Health Organization (WHO) Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) implemented in the WHO European Region since 2007. The main goal of the study is to monitor obesity in early school-aged children. The methodology of the study, the thematic scope of research tools, the organisational principles and the development of research carried out in Poland in the context of existing international assumptions are presented. In Poland, two rounds of the study were financed by the National Health Program, in cooperation with the WHO Office in Poland. The first study was carried out from November to December 2016 on a group of 3,408 children aged 8 years from 135 schools and 2,298 parents, in 9 voivodeships in Poland. The second round was carried out in the last quarter of 2018 in 12 voivodeships. A group of 2691 pupils aged 8 years from the 2nd grade of 140 primary schools in Poland and 2450 parents were examined. Data on body mass index distribution and lifestyle-related behaviours of children and their families were collected. Poland is the first country where blood pressure was measured in all participants of the COSI study. Considering the growing obesity epidemic, reliable monitoring of overweight and obesity in early childhood and the study of determinants of this phenomenon should be a priority for public health. The results obtained from this type of research are a reference point for the design and implementation of accurate prevention initiatives in this age group.