Physical activity and screen time in out of school hours care: an observational study

Carol Maher, Rosa Virgara, A Okely, Rebecca Stanley, Millie Watson, Lucy Lewis

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: This study aimed to describe, and identify predictors of, physical activity and screen time in children attending out of school hours care (OSHC). Method: Twenty-three randomly selected OSHC centres (n = 1068 children) participated in this observational, cross-sectional study. Service directors completed interviews regarding policy, training, scheduling and equipment related to physical activity and screen time. Children's activity behaviours (moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), light physical activity, sedentary time and screen time) were measured using standardised direct observation. Results: Directors' interviews revealed a lack of formal policy guiding physical activity and screen time. Time spent in activity behaviours varied widely among OSHC services; for example, average time spent in MVPA ranged from 4 to 49% of the session, time spent sedentary ranged from 31 to 79%, and screen time accounted for 0 to 41%. MVPA was inversely associated with total sedentary time (p < 0.001). Higher screen time was associated with OSHC services being larger in size (p = 0.04), offering screen activities on a daily basis (as opposed to less than daily; p = 0.001), offering screen activities prior to 5 pm (as opposed to offering screen activity 5 pm or later; p = 0.02), and having a larger number of screen devices available (p = 0.08). Conclusion: Physical activity and screen time practices in OSHC services are currently ad hoc and variable. In future, development of guidelines, policy and intervention programs may help improve physical activity and screen time in the OSHC setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number283
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Paediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • Exercise
  • Television
  • Videogames
  • Sedentary behaviour
  • Child
  • Children
  • Childcare
  • After school care


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