Publication Details

Maher, C., Virgara, R., Okely, T., Stanley, R., Watson, M. & Lewis, L. (2019). Physical activity and screen time in out of school hours care: an observational study. BMC Pediatrics, 19 283-1-283-10.



This study aimed to describe, and identify predictors of, physical activity and screen time in children attending out of school hours care (OSHC).


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.


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).


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.



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