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Tackling link between boys’ fitness and screen time

Jun 21 2013

Professor David Lubans

Associate Professor David Lubans is researching the link between obesity and computer time.

HMRI physical education researcher David Lubans is leading a research project into the link between adolescent boys, the amount of time that they spend in front of a computer or TV screen and their level of physical fitness.

The research project, Active Teen Leaders Avoiding Screen-time (ATLAS), will be investigating the corelation between increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour to improve health and wellbeing in adolescent boys who are ‘at-risk’ of obesity.

The University of Newcastle will host 100 of the 360 registered boys from schools in the Hunter and Central Coast regions.

“The project will involve fitness challenges and modified ball games with an emphasis on fair play and sportsmanship,” Associate Professor Lubans said.
“The research is important for the health of young people; we hope to engage and inspire these adolescents to take charge of their fitness.”

The ATLAS project uses innovative techniques, including iPhone and android mobile phone apps, to encourage students to self monitor their health behaviours.

The boys were selected last year following the completion of a survey revealing their levels of physical activity. Boys were invited to participate if they reported less than one hour a day of physical activity each day or more than two hours screen time each day.

The project is a multi-component school-based physical activity and sedentary behaviour intervention for adolescent boys. The eight-month intervention will be delivered in two phases including professional learning workshops for teachers and a range of strategies designed to increase students’ participation in physical activity. Support will be provided for parents to help them manage their child’s screen time behaviour.

The project has been funded by the Australian Research Council.

* Associate Professor Lubans is a member of HMRI’s Cardiovascular Research Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.