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Investigating how children’s health behaviour changes when starting high school

Nov 22, 2017 |

Professor Louise Masse is the principal investigator of the 2016 Canadian Institute of Health Research-funded project, ‘Impact of transitioning to secondary schools on behaviours associated with obesity and academic-related outcomes: A socio-ecological perspective.’ She gives an overview of her research here in this Research Highlight.

Purpose of project:

To investigate how physical activity, time spent sitting down, and diet, change when children move from elementary to secondary school; describe the factors within school, household and social environments that influence these behaviours; assess the link between academic outcomes and these behaviours; and look at how gender and social determinants of health influence academic performance.

Project end date:


Professor Louise Masse

Professor Louise Masse

Scope of project:

736 student/parent pairs from 49 schools in BC will be followed longitudinally – measured in grade 7 and then measured in grade 8.

Why is your research important?

This study addresses a critically-understudied transition period in adolescent health that coincides with important changes, incorporating how various environments interact dynamically to shape adolescents’ health behaviours.

What do you hope your research will achieve? How will it change people’s lives?

Our results have the potential to alter the downward trajectory in health behaviours we observe during a young person’s transition from elementary to secondary school. In turn, our findings have the potential to translate into a significant population level health impact as many health behaviours established during adolescence track into adulthood.

In short:

This research has the potential to keep children healthy by identifying how and why their behaviour becomes unhealthy when they start high school, and establishing healthy behaviour in adolescence can lead to healthy behaviour for life.

What is the current stage of the project?

This project was funded in July of 2017.

How will the results be used?

Our findings have the potential to inform provincial initiatives (including policies) as well as inform interventions that target the transition.

Photo credit: stevepb/Pixabay

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