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Table 2 African studies on active transportation in children and youth

From: A systematic review of active transportation research in Africa and the psychometric properties of measurement tools for children and youth

Lead author [reference] Countries* Sample size Age or grade Type of measure Destinations Main findings with respect to AT
Aandstad [45] Tanzania 156 (87B, 69G) 9-10 years Child report To school 90% of boys and 88% of girls walked to school. School travel time was not associated with VO2max as measured by a cycle ergometer test.
Bovet [27] Seychelles 8,462 (4,239B, 4,223G) Grades 4, 7 and 10 Child report To/from school In this nationally-representative sample, daily walking time was longer in children attending public schools compared to private schools. Walking to/from school was not associated with weight status.
Croteau [38] Kenya 72 (29B, 43G) 9.8 ± 1.1 years Child report To school 65% of participants walked, 17% ran and 18% used IT to school. AT was associated with higher steps per day (14,924 ± 4,157 vs. 12,335 ± 2,141).
Gibson [39] Kenya 30 (15B, 15G) 14 ± 1 years GPS To/from school All participants used AT (mean distance of 7.5 ± 3.0 km/day). Boys traveled greater distances than girls (8.9 ± 2.6 vs. 6.2 ± 2.6 km/day). AT was not associated with VO2max as measured by indirect calorimerty.
Guthold [6] 34 countries including Botswana, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Mauritus, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe 72,485 (34,674B 37,811G) 13-15 years Child report To/from school Proportion of boys and girls respectively engaging in AT ≥ once per week: Botswana (53.9%; 45.1%), Djibouti (61.9%; 58.3%), Egypt (55.3%, 63.1%), Ghana (66.6%, 59.8%), Kenya (54.4%, 52.9%), Libya (62.3%, 61.1%), Mauritus (46.8%, 36.2%), Morocco (56.1%, 49.9%), Namibia (54.2%, 50.7%), Senegal (61.4%, 58.2%), Seychelles (54.8%, 49.0%), Tanzania (39.4%, 33.6%), Uganda (52.5%, 48.3%), Zambia (60.3%, 62.8%), Zimbabwe (63.8%, 54.6%)
Hampshire [46] South Africa 959 9-17 years Child report To/from school and other destinations 86.6% of children walked to/from school. Of these, 31.9% reported journeys lasting > 45 min., and 8.3% had journeys > 90 min. Journeys were longer in remote rural areas. Girls were more likely than boys to travel for gathering firewood and cleaning clothes; boys played out more and went to family fields. Children living in rural areas travelled to gather water and firewood, wash clothes and work in fields more than their urban counterparts. 53.9% of participants feared dangers travelling to/from school including violence, rape and harassment (especially girls), dangerous vehicles and animals, rivers to cross and rough terrain.
Larsen [40] Kenya 30 B 16.6 ± 0.8 years Child report To/from school Village boys ran greater distances between home and school than town boys (0.9 vs. 0.3 km/day), but no differences were found for walking.
Lennox [43] South Africa 318 (137 B, 181 G) Grade 8 Child report To school In a low SES school, 96.4% of youth walked to school, of whom 63.9% reported distances >3 km. In an higher SES school, 92.4% walked to school, of whom 98.5% reported distances <2 km. Higher reported distance between home and school was associated with greater PA (particularly in boys).
Muthuri [41] Kenya 563 (262 B, 301 G) 9-11 years Child report To/from school 45.7% of participants engaged in AT. They were less likely to be overweight/obese (14.7 vs. 25.8%) and more likely to meet PA guidelines compared to those that used IT (22.4 vs. 5.5%). These associations were NS in fully-adjusted models.
Ojiambo [9] Kenya 200 (98B, 102G) 13.0 ± 1.0 years Child report To school All rural youth engaged in AT (40% walking, 60% running), whereas 50% of urban youth where driven by car, 41% walked and 9% ran. All urban youth had school journey times <30 minutes while 52% of rural youth had journeys ≥30 minutes.
Ojiambo [42] Kenya 30 (15B, 15G) 14 ± 1 years GPS To/from school All participants used AT (mean distance of 7.5 ± 3.0 km/day). AT distance was not associated with PA (as measured by doubly-labeled water) and BMI z-score.
Onywera [10] Kenya 169 (85B, 84G) 9-12 years Parent report To/from school 87% of rural children engaged in AT (58% walking and 29% running) vs. 42% of urban children (41% walking and 1% running). 99% of rural parents engaged in AT as a child vs. 89% of urban parents.
Oyeyemi [29] Nigeria 1,006 (499 B, 507 G) 15.6 ± 1.7 years Child report To school Participants reported engaging in AT 61.9 min/week (boys: 72.5 min vs. girls: 51.4 min; p = 0.002). Perceived access to destinations (e.g., schools, shops to buy things, and bus stops) was associated with greater engagement in AT in boys, but not in girls. Other built environment constructs were not associated with AT.
Peltzer [28] Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe 12,740 (6,039B, 6,701G) 13-15 years Child report To/from school Proportion of youth engaging in AT ≥5 days/week in Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe were respectively 24.9%, 19.8%, 27.9% and 31.1%. Compared to Kenya, Namibian youth were less likely to engage in AT (OR = 0.74), but Ugandan (OR = 1.16) and Zimbabwean (OR = 1.36) youth were more likely. Females were less likely than males, but effect size was trivial (OR = 0.98; R2 = 0.00).
Porter [33] Ghana, Malawi and South Africa 17 (6B, 11G) 11-22 years Ethnographic interviews From school All children walked from home to school, covering a distance of about 5 km. Girls tended to be more afraid about encounters with strangers. They spent more time doing household tasks before school, which often led to late arrival, punishment, truancy and school dropout. Younger children found the journey more physically difficult and dangerous.
Porter [34] Ghana, Malawi and South Africa 2,967 + 50-80 interviews per site (n = 24; 8 per country) 9-18 years Child report, interviews, life histories, focus groups, ethnographic diaries, accompanied walks To/from school and other destinations Proportion of boys and girls respectively walking to/from school: Ghana (97.4%, 98.6%), Malawi (99.1%, 99.3%), South Africa (86.4%, 86.3%). Proportion of boys and girls respectively carrying water: Ghana (82%, 71%), Malawi (23%, 55%), South Africa (26%, 38%). While children were rarely accompanied by adults, they typically traveled in same-gender groups. Girls’ mobility beyond trips to/from school and household chores was restricted by their parents, especially after they reached puberty; boys were granted more independent mobility.
Porter [35] Ghana, Malawi and South Africa 2,967 + interviews (N not specified) 9-18 years Child report, interviews, life histories, focus groups, ethnographic diaries, accompanied walks To/from school Same rates of walking to school as in Porter et al. (2010b) [31]. Proportion of boys and girls living in remote rural areas who respectively felt safe on their trip to/from school: Ghana (44%, 31%), Malawi (45%, 42%), and South Africa (21%, 24%). Participants’ concerns about traffic, attacks from people, rape, rough terrain and rivers to cross differed between gender and countries.
Porter [36] Ghana 1,005 + 150 interviews 9-18 years Child report, interviews, life histories, focus groups, ethnographic diaries, accompanied walks To/from school 98.6% of girls and 97.4% of boys walked to/from school, traveling distances up to 10 km. Teachers reported that ~70% of children miss school in the rains because they most cross an unbridged river. Large proportions of boys and girls were afraid of dangerous animals and attacks from people. Household work burden (which often involve long journeys on foot) often leads to late school arrival and consequent punishment (including corporal punishment), particularly for girls.
Taleb [37] Algeria 912 (462B, 450G) 9.6 ± 2.0 years Child report To/from school 93% of normal weight children and 90% of overweight children walked to school (NS). Distance and school travel time did not differ by weight status.
Walker [44] South Africa 240 (120B, 120G) 10-12 years Child report To/from school All participants walked to/from school. Height and weight did not differ between children living closer or further from school. Boys who traveled longer distances had higher HDL cholesterol (1.83 vs. 1.71 mmol/L), but no such association was observed in girls. Distance was not associated with total cholesterol and triglycerides.
  1. Note: All included studies used cross-sectional designs. *Only data from African countries are considered eligible for this section of the review, so non-African countries are not listed. B = boy; G = girl; AT = active transportation; IT = inactive transportation; GPS = global positioning system; NS = non-significant; PA = physical activity.