Facility Provision in Elementary Schools

Correlates with Physical Education, Recess, and Obesity

Published In: Preventive Medicine, v. 50, Suppl. 1, Jan. 2010, p. S30-S35

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2010

by Meenakshi Maria Fernandes, Roland Sturm

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OBJECTIVES: The objectives were to: (1) document correlations among facility provision (availability and adequacy) in elementary schools, child sociodemographic factors, and school characteristics nationwide; and (2) investigate whether facility provision is associated with physical education (PE) time, recess time, and obesity trajectory. METHODS: The analytic sample included 8935 fifth graders from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey Kindergarten Cohort. School teachers and administrators were surveyed about facility provision, PE, and recess time in April 2004. Multivariate linear and logistic regressions that accounted for the nesting of children within schools were used. RESULTS: Children from disadvantaged backgrounds were more likely to attend a school with worse gymnasium and playground provision. Gymnasium availability was associated with an additional 8.3 min overall and at least an additional 25 min of PE per week for schools in humid climate zones. These figures represent 10.8 and 32.5%, respectively, of the average time spent in PE. No significant findings were obtained for gymnasium and playground adequacy in relation to PE and recess time, and facility provision in relation to obesity trajectory. CONCLUSIONS: Poor facility provision is a potential barrier for school physical activity programs and facility provision is lower in schools that most need them: urban, high minority, and high enrollment schools.

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