Sociodemographic inequities associated with participation in leisure-time physical activity in sub-Saharan Africa: an individual participant data meta-analysis

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Barr, Anna Louise 
Partap, Uttara 
Young, Elizabeth H. 
Agoudavi, Kokou 
Balde, Naby 

Abstract: Background: Leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) is an important contributor to total physical activity and the focus of many interventions promoting activity in high-income populations. Little is known about LTPA in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and with expected declines in physical activity due to rapid urbanisation and lifestyle changes we aimed to assess the sociodemographic differences in the prevalence of LTPA in the adult populations of this region to identify potential barriers for equitable participation. Methods: A two-step individual participant data meta-analysis was conducted using data collected in SSA through 10 population health surveys that included the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire. For each sociodemographic characteristic, the pooled adjusted prevalence and risk ratios (RRs) for participation in LTPA were calculated using the random effects method. Between-study heterogeneity was explored through meta-regression analyses and tests for interaction. Results: Across the 10 populations (N = 26,022), 18.9% (95%CI: 14.3, 24.1; I2 = 99.0%) of adults (≥ 18 years) participated in LTPA. Men were more likely to participate in LTPA compared with women (RR for women: 0.43; 95%CI: 0.32, 0.60; P < 0.001; I2 = 97.5%), while age was inversely associated with participation. Higher levels of education were associated with increased LTPA participation (RR: 1.30; 95%CI: 1.09, 1.55; P = 0.004; I2 = 98.1%), with those living in rural areas or self-employed less likely to participate in LTPA. These associations remained after adjusting for time spent physically active at work or through active travel. Conclusions: In these populations, participation in LTPA was low, and strongly associated with sex, age, education, self-employment and urban residence. Identifying the potential barriers that reduce participation in these groups is necessary to enable equitable access to the health and social benefits associated with LTPA.

Research Article, Social determinants of health, Leisure-time physical activity, Physical activity, Sub-Saharan Africa, Occupational physical activity, Active travel, Global physical activity questionnaire, Recreation, Equity, Urbanisation, Mechanisation
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BMC Public Health
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BioMed Central
Medical Research Foundation (MR/K013491/1)
Wellcome Trust (WT206194)