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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A multi-method examination of physical activity and sedentary time in South Asian adults at high risk for type 2 diabetes in Canada Mahmood, Bushra


South Asian immigrants are at high risk of chronic disease partly due to low levels of physical activity (PA). Accurate assessment of PA and sedentary time is imperative for monitoring PA trends and designing interventions. Few studies have used device-worn measures to assess PA and sedentary time in South Asians or investigated the potential association of socio-demographic factors. Objectives of this dissertation are to: 1) synthesize data on accelerometer-based studies in South Asians, 2) assess PA and sedentary time in a sample of South Asian adults using accelerometers, 3) examine potential socio-demographic correlates of PA and sedentary time, 4) and explore socio-cultural factors that influence PA. Methods: For objective 1, I systematically searched major databases for studies assessing device-worn measures of PA and sedentary time in South Asians. For objective 2 and 3, a subset of 100 South Asian participants self-reported socio-demographic information and wore Actical accelerometer for 7 days. For objective 4, I conducted four Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with a sub-sample of 22 participants to understand socio-cultural influences of PA. Results: Only 14 studies used an accelerometer to measure PA and sedentary time with considerable variability in reported outcomes. In the accelerometer trial, participants accumulated 673.5 (95% CI: 656.6, 691.0) mean min/day of sedentary time, 130.5 (95% CI: 117.3, 145.3) min/day of light PA (LPA) and 6.8 (95% CI: 4.7, 10.1) min/day of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA). Sex and Body Mass Index explained 51% of the variability in sedentary time and LPA. Sex and an interaction between education and presence of children under 12 explained 23% of the variability in MVPA. FGDs revealed participants’ understanding of PA was culturally embedded thus highlighting the need to understand influence of socio-cultural factors including immigration status on PA behavior. Conclusion: High sedentary time and low MVPA indicates a need to focus health promotion efforts on shifting sedentary time into LPA. FGDs reveal inadequate understanding of PA guidelines among women and difficulties in assessing intensity of activities. Self-report alone may not be an ideal method of PA assessment in South Asians. Future studies need to be based on representative samples of South Asians.

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