4147.4.55.001 - Culture and Recreation News, Aug 2005  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/08/2005   
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In recent years there has been increasing concern about obesity among children and young adults. This has led to research and debate about issues such as the amount of time children spend on sedentary activities such as watching television and playing computer games; whether there are socioeconomic factors that are associated with non-participation in sport or physical activities; and the relative influences of diet and exercise on obesity.

To further inform this debate the ABS has undertaken some statistical analysis of information collected in the ABS survey of Children's Participation in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities.

The findings of the first stage of this statistical analysis were presented by Mike Stratton of NCCRS at the Australian Social Policy Conference in Sydney in July 2005. The paper, which is available on the conference Web site, was entitled The Young and the Restful - The Effects of Recreational Choices and Demographic Factors on Children's Participation in Sport.
The analysis indicates that screen-based activities do compete for a child's time, however modest amounts of time spent on these as well as on other leisure activities do not necessarily translate into a reduced likelihood of participating in organised sport. In fact, the analysis shows that children who had not used a computer or the Internet at home in the two weeks prior to interview were much less likely to participate in organised sport than those who had.

Instead, socioeconomic characteristics have more of an impact on the likelihood of participation. In particular, the children who were least likely to participate in organised sport were those in families with unemployed parents. Low rates of participation in organised sport were also more common for children who were born overseas, children whose parent(s) were born in a non-English speaking country, and children living in areas with a low overall socioeconomic status.

Of all the family and labour force combinations, children in couple families in which both parents were employed were the most likely to participate in organised sport.

In the second stage of this analysis, the ABS will examine the relationship between various factors and the frequency and hours of participation in organised sport. Findings from the second stage of the analysis will be presented at a conference in October 2005.

Further information about this project may be obtained from Mike Stratton on (08) 8237 7399 or by emailing <nccrs@abs.gov.au>.