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4156.0.55.001 - Perspectives on Sport, July 2012  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/07/2012   
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CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION IN ORGANISED SPORTS AND DANCING A PSEUDO-LONGITUDINAL ANALYSIS 2000 TO 2009


INTRODUCTION

Over recent years media have increasingly focused on the problem of excess weight and obesity amongst Australians. These concerns were not only related to adults, but also to the growing number of overweight and obese children. The number of overweight 7-15 year olds almost doubled between 1985 and 1995, while the prevalence of obesity had tripled over the same period (VicHealth 2007). Further findings show that in the period between 1995 and 2007-08 the number of children in the same age group who were overweight or obese increased a further 4 percentage points to a quarter (600,000) of all children (ABS 2010). It is estimated that if current trends in weight gain continue, one third of Australian children will be overweight or obese by 2020 (MODI 2012).

Although weight gain and obesity can be caused by a number of factors, the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of many children is often blamed as being a major contributor to the problem. With the growing popularity of physically inactive pastimes (such as electronic games), less suitable play space and greater concerns about children’s personal safety, the urban environment has become less conducive to children’s physical activity (Department of Health 2006).

In order to get a better understanding of the level of children's physical activity patterns this article looks at their participation in organised sport and dancing. This article uses data collected triennially from 2000 to 2009 as part of the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) Survey of Children’s Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities (CPCLA) (cat. no. 4901.0) (ABS 2009a) to create a pseudo-longitudinal dataset. This was made possible by the survey remaining relatively consistent in terms of questions asked throughout the 9 year period. By creating a pseudo-longitudinal dataset, participation could be analysed in terms of generational and age related changes over the 2000-2009 period. The article provides an update of the findings of the pseudo-longitudinal dataset presented in the ABS (2009b) Research Paper: Children’s Participation in Organised Sporting Activity, Oct 2009 (cat. no. 1351.0.55.028) and incorporates data from the 2009 CPCLA. Unless otherwise specified, differences between data items highlighted in the article are statistically significant.


METHODOLOGY

In order to analyse the changes in organised sport and dancing participation between 2000 and 2009, a ‘pseudo-longitudinal’ approach was adopted. The data used in this study have been extracted from four repeated but independent cross-sectional survey datasets. This means that a consistent set of questions has been asked in all four surveys, but there is no overlap of individual respondents between surveys. Hence we cannot track changes in individual behaviour over time. We can, however, monitor changes in the average behaviour of several cohorts of children who share the same birth-year. For example, the cohort of children who were aged 6-8 years at the time of the April 2000 CPCLA survey were surveyed again in April 2003 (as 9-11 year olds) and again in April 2006 (as 12-14 year olds). It is this property of the pooled dataset that prompts us to describe the data as ‘pseudo-longitudinal’.

Inherent in our definition of ‘pseudo-longitudinal’ data is the notion of three interrelated dimensions in the data:

  • the age dimension reflects the age of the child at the time of their inclusion in the survey
  • the period dimension indicates the date on which the survey was conducted (e.g. April 2003) and
  • the cohort dimension groups together children who share common birth-years.

In order to identify how participation changes with age, a cohort’s average rate of organised sport and dancing participation was compared between surveys. For instance, the participation rate of children aged 6-8 years in the 2006 survey was compared with the rate of participation of children aged 9-11 years in the 2009 survey to determine how the participation rate changed for that cohort over the 2006-2009 period.

Each survey was referred to as a "data wave". Each additional wave of data introduced information to the longitudinal analysis. The fourth wave from the 2009 CPCLA survey was the most recent addition to the existing three waves of data first presented in the ABS (2009b) Research Paper: Children’s Participation in Organised Sporting Activity, Oct 2009 (cat. no. 1351.0.55.028). This added a new cohort, cohort 6, consisting of children aged 6-8 years in April 2009. Cohort 5, comprising of children aged 6-8 years in 2006 progressed into the 9-11 year age group in 2009, while cohort 4 moved into the 12-14 year age group. This is illustrated in the diagram below.

Diagram: METHODOLOGY

Further information regarding the methodology can be found in the ABS (2009b) Research Paper: Children’s Participation in Organised Sporting Activity, Oct 2009 (cat. no. 1351.0.55.028).


RESULTS
Diagram: RESULTS

The 2009 data displayed similar patterns to those present in the previous three surveys. The total participation rate for children aged 6-14 years in 2009 was 70% which was higher than the participation rate of 67% recorded in 2000. For all years, participation increased with age from the 6-8 to 9-11 year age groups then fell for the 12-14 year age group.


6-8 year olds

Participation within the 6-8 year age group increased 4 percentage points over the 2000 to 2009 period, from 63% to 67%. Children aged 6-8 years had a significantly lower participation rate than 9-11 year olds for all survey years, and had the lowest participation rate of the three age categories in 2000 (63%) and 2003 (65%). There was not enough evidence to suggest statistically significant differences between the 6-8 year and 12-14 year age groups in 2006 and 2009.


9-11 year olds

A clear pattern of increasing and then decreasing participation can be seen amongst the two cohorts (cohort 3 and 4) that have progressed through three consecutive surveys. Participation was found to increase to a peak at 9-11 years before declining with age.

CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION RATE IN ORGANISED SPORT AND DANCING, By cohort and age group - 2000-2009
Graph: CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION RATE IN ORGANISED SPORT AND DANCING, By cohort and age group - 2000-2009


The table below shows the percentage point change in organised sport and dancing participation for cohorts of children that have progressed between the 6-8 year and 9-11 year age groups. Participation increased substantially as children moved between the two groups, with the most sizeable rise occurring within the third cohort (10 percentage points). More recently the changes in participation have decreased in magnitude. This could be attributed to children starting to participate in organised sport and dancing at a younger age (6-8 years), as opposed to taking up sport at 9-11 years of age.

CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION RATE IN ORGANISED SPORT AND DANCING, By cohort and age

Age
6-8 years
9-11 years
Change
%
%
Percentage points

Cohort 3
62.8
72.5
9.7
Cohort 4
64.7
74.1
9.4
Cohort 5
67.4
73.0
5.6



The 2009 CPCLA survey found that almost three quarters (73%) of children aged 9-11 years participated in organised sport and dancing. Over the 9 year period the participation rate for the 9-11 year age group remained stable.


12-14 year olds

After peaking at 9-11 years of age, participation in organised sport and dancing declined amongst those aged 12-14 years. The declines in 2006 and 2009 resulted in the 12-14 year age group reporting participation rates that were similar to that of the 6-8 year age group for the respective surveys.

Cohort 4, aged 12-14 years in 2009, reported a participation rate of 69%, down 5 percentage points from the participation rate of the cohort at age 9-11 years (74%). Cohort 3 had the same percentage point drop in participation as cohort 4, while cohort 2 recorded a 3 percentage point drop. This shows that some children became less involved in organised sport and dancing as they reached their teenage years, than when they were 9-11 years old.

CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION RATE IN ORGANISED SPORT AND DANCING, By cohort and age

Age
9-11 years
12-14 years
Change
%
%
Percentage points

Cohort 2
71.0
68.1
-2.9
Cohort 3
72.5
67.8
-4.7
Cohort 4
74.1
69.4
-4.7



In 2009 the participation rate (69%) was significantly higher than the rate collected in the 2000 CPCLA (66%). Throughout the 2000 to 2009 period there was not enough evidence to suggest statistically significant changes between neighbouring survey years, suggesting that participation within the age group had increased slowly over the nine year period.


Total participation

Participation increased in the 2000 to 2003 period with a 2 percentage point rise in the overall participation rate amongst all children. Participation did not increase at such a rate over the next 6 years to 2009.

CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION RATE IN ORGANISED SPORT AND DANCING, By survey year
Graph: CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION RATE IN ORGANISED SPORT AND DANCING, By survey year



SUMMARY

Organised sport and dancing participation amongst children increased from 67% in 2000 to 70% in 2009. Participation between 2000 and 2009 increased for the 6-8 and 12-14 year age groups from 63% and 66% in 2000, to 67% and 69% in 2009 respectively. Participation was consistently at its highest amongst the 9-11 year age group (73% in 2009). Retention of involvement in organised sport and dancing amongst children aged 12-14 years appears to be an issue, with fewer children participating in organised sport and dancing as they reach their early teenage years.


REFERENCES

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2009a, Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, Apr 2009, cat. no. 4901.0, ABS, Canberra.

ABS 2009b, Research Paper: Children's Participation in Organised Sporting Activity, Oct 2009, cat. no. 1351.0.55.028, ABS, Canberra.

ABS 2010, Year Book Australia, 2009-10, cat. no. 1301.0, ABS, Canberra.

Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute (MODI) 2012, Facts & Figures: Obesity in Australia, Accessed 13 March 2012 <http://www.modi.monash.edu.au/obesity-facts-figures/obesity-in-australia/>

Department of Health 2006, Healthy Weight Fact Sheet 2: Causes and consequences of overweight and obesity, Government of South Australia, Health Promotion Branch, Accessed 13 March 2012, <http://www.health.sa.gov.au/pehs/branches/health-promotion/healthy-weight-factsheet2.pdf>

VicHealth 2007, Fact Sheet: Obesity & Overweight, State Government of Victoria, Accessed 13 March 2012, <http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/~/media/ProgramsandProjects/PhysicalActivity/Attachments/obesity_fact.ashx >


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