The association of screen time with physical activity and weight status of autistic children in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Article publication date: 29 August 2022
Issue publication date: 28 February 2023
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the screen time used by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) children and its association with their physical activity and weight status.
This cross-sectional study was conducted among 100 purposive sampled children registered under the National Autism Society of Malaysia centres in Kuala Lumpur. Parents-administered questionnaire composed of socio-demographic, anthropometric data (height and weight of the children), Autism Severity Questionnaire, Screen Time Questionnaire and Physical Activity Questionnaire for Older Children (PAQ-C) was used in this study.
Respondents in this study were categorised as having mild ASD (55%). Most of the respondents had higher screen time (78%), with average (4.14 ± 3.19) h spent using the devices. The respondents had low physical activity level (54%), with average PAQ-C scores of (2.38 ± 0.79). Average BMI-for-age z-scores was 1.06 ± 2.15, which was in the normal category. Approximately, 34% of the respondents were overweight and obese. BMI-for-age was positively associated with screen time during weekdays (χ2 = 11.06; p < 0.05) but not during weekend (χ2 = 3.14; p > 0.05). Spearman correlation test showed negative relationships between screen time on weekdays (rs = −0.30 and p < 0.01) and weekend (rs = −0.21 and p < 0.05) with PAQ-C of this group of ASD children.
Screen time was directly associated with the BMI-for-age z-score but was inversely associated with physical activity. Future studies could implement a structured physical activity intervention among children with ASD, which may increase physical activity and decrease screen time behaviours while addressing the overweight/obesity and cognitive aspects of these ASD children.
This study measured the amount of screen time, level of physical activity and weight status but not dietary intake of autistic children.
The authors would like to thanks participants and teachers from National Autism Society of Malaysia for their contribution to the study.
Rozaini, M.A.N., Sariman, S., Abd Rashed, A. and Shari, N. (2023), "The association of screen time with physical activity and weight status of autistic children in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 53 No. 3, pp. 549-563. https://doi.org/10.1108/NFS-02-2022-0038
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