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BACKGROUND: The after-school period has been described as the 'critical window' for physical activity (PA) participation. However, little is known about the importance of this window compared with the before and during-school period among socioeconomically disadvantaged children, and influence of gender and weight status. METHODS: 39 out of 156 (RR=25%) invited primary schools across 26 local government areas in Victoria, Australia, consented to participate with 856 children (RR=36%) participating in the wider study. The analysis sample included 298 Grade 4 and Grade 6 children (mean age: 11.2±1.1; 44% male) whom met minimum accelerometry wear-time criteria and had complete height, weight and health-behaviours questionnaire data. Accelerometry measured duration in daily light-intensity PA (LPA), moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and sedentary time (ST) was calculated for before-school=8-8:59, during-school=9:00-15:29 and after-school=15:30-18:00. Bivariate and multivariable linear regression analyses were conducted. RESULTS: During-school represented the greatest accumulation of LPA and MVPA compared with the before and after-school periods. Boys engaged in 102 min/day of LPA (95% CI 98.5 to 104.9) and 62 min/day of MVPA (95% CI 58.9 to 64.7) during-school; girls engaged in 103 min/day of LPA (95% CI 99.7 to 106.5) and 45 min/day of MVPA (95% CI 42.9 to 47.4). Linear regression models indicated that girls with overweight or obesity engaged in significantly less LPA, MVPA and more time in ST during-school. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the importance of in-school PA compared with after-school PA among socioeconomically disadvantage children whom may have fewer resources to participate in after-school PA.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





disadvantaged, obesity, physical activity