Understanding the influence of 24-hour movement behaviours on the health and development of preschool children from low-income South African settings: the SUNRISE pilot study


Background: The International Study of Movement Behaviours in the Early Years, SUNRISE, was initiated to assess the extent to which young children meet movement behaviour guidelines (physical activity, sedentary behaviour, screen time, sleep). Objective: The South African SUNRISE pilot study assessed movement behaviours in preschool children from two low-income settings, and associations between these movement behaviours, adiposity, motor skills and executive function (EF).

Methods: Preschool child/parent pairs (n = 89) were recruited from preschools in urban Soweto and rural Sweetwaters. Height and weight were measured to assess adiposity. Physical activity was assessed using accelerometers while sedentary behaviour, screen time and sleep were assessed via parent report. Fine and gross motor development were measured using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire-3, and EF was assessed using the Early Years Toolbox.

Results: The proportion of children meeting the physical activity guideline was 84% , 66% met the sleep guideline ,48% met the screen time guideline , and 26% met all three guidelines. Rural children were more active, but spent more time on screens compared to urban children. Most children were on track for gross (96%) and fine motor (73%) development, and mean EF scores were in the expected range for all EF measures. EF was negatively associated with screen time, and gross motor skills were positively associated with physical activity.

Conclusion: The South African SUNRISE study contributes to the growing literature on 24-hour movement behaviours in SA preschool children, and highlights that these behaviours require attention in this age group.

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