Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Associations between sex-typed behaviour at age 3½ and levels and patterns of physical activity at age 12: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children
  1. Calum Mattocks1,
  2. Melissa Hines2,
  3. Andy Ness3,4,
  4. Sam Leary3,
  5. Alex Griffiths3,
  6. Kate Tilling3,
  7. Steven N Blair5,
  8. Chris Riddoch1
  1. 1School for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  2. 2Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  3. 3Department of Oral and Dental Science, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  4. 4Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  5. 5Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Calum Mattocks, 6.28 Norwood House, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK; c.mattocks{at}


Background Differences in sex-typed behaviour, including physical activity, are already apparent among preschool children.

Purpose To examine the associations between early sex-typed behaviour and later physical activity.

Methods Children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children were asked to wear an accelerometer for 7 days at age 12. Physical activity outcomes were counts per minute (counts/min) and minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Sex-typed behaviour was assessed using the Pre-School Activities Inventory (PSAI) at age 3½. Multivariable regression was used to examine the association between PSAI and physical activity, separately for boys and girls.

Results Accelerometer data were collected from 2593 boys and 2858 girls, mean (SD) age 11.8 (0.23) years. A one point higher PSAI score (mean (SD) 61.7 (8.7) and 37.0 (9.1) for boys and girls, respectively) was associated with a higher level of physical activity (counts/min) of 2.3 (95% CI 0.9 to 3.7) in boys and 0.7 (95% CI −0.1 to 1.4) in girls. This is equivalent to a higher counts/min of 56.7 (95% CI 23.1 to 90.3) and 16.6 (95% CI −2.4 to 35.5) for boys and girls, respectively, for a higher PSAI score equivalent to the difference between boys and girls (24.7). Results for MVPA were similar.

Conclusions Higher male-typical behaviour in early childhood is associated with higher physical activity in early adolescence, particularly in boys.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding The UK Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol provide core support for ALSPAC. This research was specifically funded by a grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (R01 HL071248-01A).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the ALSPAC Law and Ethics Committee and LRECs.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.