International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 83–94 | Cite as

Associations between perceived social and physical environmental variables and physical activity and screen time among adolescents in four European countries

  • J. BuckschEmail author
  • J. Kopcakova
  • J. Inchley
  • P. J. Troped
  • G. Sudeck
  • D. Sigmundova
  • H. Nalecz
  • A. Borraccino
  • F. Salonna
  • Z. Dankulincova Veselska
  • Z. Hamrik
Original Article



Associations between the perceived social and physical environment and self-reported moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and screen time (ST) were examined among adolescents in four European countries.


Representative samples were surveyed with standardised methodologies. Associations between environmental variables and meeting MVPA recommendations and tertiles of ST were tested in gender-specific logistic regression models. Moderation by country and country-specific relationships were also examined.


The most consistent findings across countries were found for the significant associations between neighbourhood social environment and MVPA in both boys and girls. Significant associations with the physical environment varied more between countries and by gender. The most consistent negative associations with ST were found for the social environmental variable of having parental rules for spending time outside the home.


The present findings provided evidence for the generalisability of the associations between environmental correlates and MVPA across four European countries. The findings show clear differences in correlates for MVPA and ST. Further research is needed to better understand the unique aspects of the social and physical environment which explain each of the two behaviours.


Screen time Physical activity Social and physical environment European countries Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study 



Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) is an international study carried out in collaboration with WHO/EURO. The International Coordinator of the 2013/14, survey was Professor Candace Currie at the University of St Andrews, Scotland and the Data Manager was Professor Oddrun Samdal at the University of Bergen, Norway. The study was supported from European Regional Development Fund-Project “Effective Use of Social Research Studies for Practice” (No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_025/0007294) and the Czech Science Foundation under reg. No. 18-24977S.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have conflicts of interest and study was in compliance with ethical standards.


  1. Atkin AJ, Gorely T, Clemes SA, Yates T, Edwardson C, Brage S, Salmon J, Marshall SJ, Biddle SJ (2012) Methods of measurement in epidemiology: sedentary behaviour. Int J Epidemiol 41:1460–1471. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atkin AJ, Corder K, Ekelund U, Wijndaele K, Griffin SJ, van Sluijs EMF (2013) Determinants of change in children’s sedentary time. PLoS ONE 8:e67627. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Atkin AJ, Sharp SJ, Corder K, van Sluijs Esther M F (2014) Prevalence and correlates of screen time in youth: an international perspective. Am J Prev Med 47:803–807. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Badura P, Geckova AM, Sigmundova D, van Dijk JP, Reijneveld SA (2015) When children play, they feel better: organized activity participation and health in adolescents. BMC Public Health 15:1090. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bjelland M, Soenens B, Bere E, Kovács É, Lien N, Maes L, Manios Y, Moschonis G, Velde Te, Saskia J (2015) Associations between parental rules, style of communication and children’s screen time. BMC Public Health 15:1002. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bobakova D, Hamrik Z, Badura P, Sigmundova D, Nalecz H, Kalman M (2015) Test-retest reliability of selected physical activity and sedentary behaviour HBSC items in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. Int J Public Health 60:59–67. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boyce W, Torsheim T, Currie C, Zambon A (2006) The family affluence scale as a measure of national wealth: validation of an adolescent self-report measure. Soc Indic Res 78:473–487. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bucksch J, Sigmundova D, Hamrik Z, Troped PJ, Melkevik O, Ahluwalia N, Borraccino A, Tynjälä J, Kalman M, Inchley J (2016) International trends in adolescent screen-time behaviors from 2002 to 2010. J Adolesc Health 58:417–425. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carson V, Hunter S, Kuzik N, Gray CE, Poitras VJ, Chaput J-P, Saunders TJ, Katzmarzyk PT, Okely AD, Connor Gorber S, Kho ME, Sampson M, Lee H, Tremblay MS (2016) Systematic review of sedentary behaviour and health indicators in school-aged children and youth: an update. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 41:65. Google Scholar
  10. Carver A, Timperio A, Crawford D (2008) Playing it safe: the influence of neighbourhood safety on children’s physical activity: a review. Health Place 14:217–227. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chastin SFM, de Craemer M, Lien N, Bernaards C, Buck C, Oppert J-M, Nazare J-A, Lakerveld J, O’Donoghue G, Holdsworth M, Owen N, Brug J, Cardon G (2016) The SOS-framework (Systems of Sedentary behaviours): an international transdisciplinary consensus framework for the study of determinants, research priorities and policy on sedentary behaviour across the life course: a DEDIPAC-study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 13:83. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Currie C, Inchley J, Molcho M, Lenzi M, Veselska Z, Wild F (2014) Health Behavour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study protocol: background, methodology and mandatory items for the 2013/14 survey. CAHRU, St. AndrewsGoogle Scholar
  13. Davison KK, Lawson CT (2006) Do attributes in the physical environment influence children’s physical activity?: a review of the literature. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 3:19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ding D, Sallis JF, Kerr J, Lee S, Rosenberg DE (2011) Neighborhood environment and physical activity among youth a review. Am J Prev Med 41:442–455. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ding D, Adams MA, Sallis JF, Norman GJ, Hovell MF, Chambers CD, Hofstetter CR, Bowles HR, Hagstromer M, Craig CL, Gomez LF, de Bourdeaudhuij I, Macfarlane DJ, Ainsworth BE, Bergman P, Bull FC, Carr H, Klasson-Heggebo L, Inoue S, Murase N, Matsudo S, Matsudo V, McLean G, Sjostrom M, Tomten H, Lefevre J, Volbekiene V, Bauman AE (2013) Perceived neighborhood environment and physical activity in 11 countries: do associations differ by country? Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 10:57. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ferreira I, van der Horst K, Wendel-Vos W, Kremers S, van Lenthe FJ, Brug J (2007) Environmental correlates of physical activity in youth—a review and update. Obes Rev 8:129–154. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Garcia JM, Agaronov A, Sirard JR, Whaley D, Rice DJ, Weltman A (2017) Psychosocial and friend influences on objective sedentary behavior and screen time: a mixed methods analysis. J Phys Act Health 14:213–221. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Janssen I, Leblanc AG (2010) Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 7:40. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kalman M, Inchley J, Sigmundova D, Iannotti RJ, Tynjala J, Hamrik Z, Haug E, Bucksch J (2015) Secular trends in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in 32 countries from 2002 to 2010: a cross-national perspective. Eur J Public Health 25:S37–S40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kerr J, Sallis JF, Owen N, de Bourdeaudhuij I, Cerin E, Sugiyama T, Reis R, Sarmiento O, Fromel K, Mitas J, Troelsen J, Christiansen LB, Macfarlane D, Salvo D, Schofield G, Badland H, Guillen-Grima F, Aguinaga-Ontoso I, Davey R, Bauman A, Saelens B, Riddoch C, Ainsworth B, Pratt M, Schmidt T, Frank L, Adams M, Conway T, Cain K, van Dyck D, Bracy N (2013) Advancing science and policy through a coordinated international study of physical activity and built environments: IPEN adult methods. J Phys Act Health 10:581–601CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kopcakova J, Dankulincova Vaselska Z, Madarasova Geckova A, Bucksch J, Nalecz H, Sigmundova D, van Dijk JP, Reijneveld SA (2017) Is a perceived activity-friendly environment associated with more physical activity and fewer screen-based activities in adolescents? Int J Environ Res Public Health 14:39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Leblanc AG, Katzmarzyk PT, Barreira TV, Broyles ST, Chaput J-P, Church TS, Fogelholm M, Harrington DM, Hu G, Kuriyan R, Kurpad A, Lambert EV, Maher C, Maia J, Matsudo V, Olds T, Onywera V, Sarmiento OL, Standage M, Tudor-Locke C, Zhao P, Tremblay MS (2015) Correlates of total sedentary time and screen time in 9-11 year-old children around the world: the international study of childhood obesity, lifestyle and the environment. PLoS ONE 10:e0129622. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liu Y, Wang M, Tynjala J, Lv Y, Villberg J, Zhang ZY, Kannas L (2010) Test-retest reliability of selected items of Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey questionnaire in Beijing, China. BMC Med Res Methodol. Google Scholar
  24. Macdonald-Wallis K, Jago R, Sterne JA (2012) Social network analysis of childhood and youth physical activity: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med 43:636–642. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ommundsen Y, Klasson-Heggebo L, Anderssen SA (2006) Psycho-social and environmental correlates of location-specific physical activity among 9- and 15- year-old Norwegian boys and girls: the European Youth Heart Study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 3:32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ommundsen Y, Page A, Ku PW, Cooper AR (2008) Cross-cultural, age and gender validation of a computerised questionnaire measuring personal, social and environmental associations with children’s physical activity: the European Youth Heart Study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 5:29. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pate RR, Mitchell JA, Byun W, Dowda M (2011) Sedentary behaviour in youth. Br J Sports Med 45:906–913. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Patnode CD, Lytle LA, Erickson DJ, Sirard JR, Barr-Anderson D, Story M (2010) The relative influence of demographic, individual, social, and environmental factors on physical activity among boys and girls. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 7:79. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pearson N, Braithwaite RE, Biddle SJH, van Sluijs EMF, Atkin AJ (2014) Associations between sedentary behaviour and physical activity in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Obes Rev 15:666–675. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Poitras VJ, Gray CE, Borghese MM, Carson V, Chaput J-P, Janssen I, Katzmarzyk PT, Pate RR, Connor Gorber S, Kho ME, Sampson M, Tremblay MS (2016) Systematic review of the relationships between objectively measured physical activity and health indicators in school-aged children and youth. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 41:239. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Prochaska JJ, Sallis JF, Long B (2001) A physical activity screening measure for use with adolescents in primary care. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 155:554–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ridgers ND, Timperio A, Crawford D, Salmon J (2012) Validity of a brief self-report instrument for assessing compliance with physical activity guidelines amongst adolescents. J Sci Med Sport 15:136–141. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sallis J, Owen N, Fisher EB (2008) Ecological models of health behavior. In: Glanz K, Rimer BK, Viswanath K (eds) Health behavior and health education, vol 4. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp 465–485Google Scholar
  34. Sawka K, McCormack GR, Nettel-Aguirre A, Hawe P, Doyle-Baker PK (2013) Friendship networks and physical activity and sedentary behavior among youth: a systematized review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 10:130. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schoeppe S, Duncan MJ, Badland HM, Oliver M, Browne M (2014) Associations between children’s independent mobility and physical activity. BMC Public Health 14:91. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schoeppe S, Duncan MJ, Badland HM, Alley S, Williams S, Rebar AL, Vandelanotte C (2015) Socio-demographic factors and neighbourhood social cohesion influence adults’ willingness to grant children greater independent mobility: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health 15:690. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sirard JR, Bruening M, Wall MM, Eisenberg ME, Kim SK, Neumark-Sztainer D (2013) Physical activity and screen time in adolescents and their friends. Am J Prev Med 44:48–55. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stierlin AS, de Lepeleere S, Cardon G, Dargent-Molina P, Hoffmann B, Murphy MH, Kennedy A, O’Donoghue G, Chastin SF, de Craemer M (2015) A systematic review of determinants of sedentary behaviour in youth: a DEDIPAC-study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 12:133. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stone MR, Faulkner GEJ, Mitra R, Buliung RN (2014) The freedom to explore: examining the influence of independent mobility on weekday, weekend and after-school physical activity behaviour in children living in urban and inner-suburban neighbourhoods of varying socioeconomic status. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 11:5. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Uijtdewilligen L, Nauta J, Singh AS, van Mechelen W, Twisk JW, van der Horst K, Chinapaw MJ (2011) Determinants of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in young people: a review and quality synthesis of prospective studies. Br J Sports Med 45:896–905. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Veitch J, Bagley S, Ball K, Salmon J (2006) Where do children usually play? A qualitative study of parents’ perceptions of influences on children’s active free-play. Health Place 12:383–393. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Veitch J, Timperio A, Crawford D, Abbott G, Giles-Corti B, Salmon J (2011) Is the neighbourhood environment associated with sedentary behaviour outside of school hours among children? Ann Behav Med 41:333–341. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vereecken CA, Todd J, Roberts C, Mulvihill C, Maes L (2006) Television viewing behaviour and associations with food habits in different countries. Public Health Nutr 9:244–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Verloigne M, Loyen A, van Hecke L, Lakerveld J, Hendriksen I, de Bourdheaudhuij I, Deforche B, Donnelly A, Ekelund U, Brug J, van der Ploeg Hidde P (2016) Variation in population levels of sedentary time in European children and adolescents according to cross-European studies: a systematic literature review within DEDIPAC. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 13:69. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Bucksch
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. Kopcakova
    • 2
  • J. Inchley
    • 3
  • P. J. Troped
    • 4
  • G. Sudeck
    • 5
  • D. Sigmundova
    • 6
  • H. Nalecz
    • 7
  • A. Borraccino
    • 8
  • F. Salonna
    • 6
  • Z. Dankulincova Veselska
    • 2
  • Z. Hamrik
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Natural and Human SciencesHeidelberg University of EducationHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Department of Health Psychology, Kosice Institute for Society and Health, Faculty of MedicinePJ Safarik University in KosiceKosiceSlovak Republic
  3. 3.Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, School of MedicineUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK
  4. 4.Department of Exercise and Health SciencesUniversity of Massachusetts BostonBostonUSA
  5. 5.Institute of Sport ScienceUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  6. 6.Institute of Active Lifestyle, Faculty of Physical CulturePalacký University OlomoucOlomoucCzech Republic
  7. 7.The Jozef Pilsudski University of Physical EducationWarsawPoland
  8. 8.Department of Public Health and PediatricsUniversity of TorinoTurinItaly
  9. 9.Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Faculty of Physical CulturePalacký University OlomoucOlomoucCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations