SOPHYA: Swiss children’s Objectively measured PHYsical Activity

The SOPHYA study investigated how children and adolescents from all over Switzerland move or engage in sports and how this behaviour changes at the transition from childhood to adolescence and from adolescence to adulthood. SOPHYA is the first nationwide long-term study that objectively measured the physical activity behaviour of children and adolescents (using accelerometers) and at the same time investigated the influencing factors by means of surveys on sports activities, family, lifestyle, living environment and health. This made it possible to identify short- and long-term factors influencing physical activity and sport behaviour.

Newest Results of the SOPHYA STUDY

Results show that the home environment and parents have a major influence on physical activity behaviour in childhood and thus have a long-term impact on the health of children and later adults. Physical activity did not decrease during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The SOPHYA Study

The baseline SOPHYA study was realized in 2014/15 and included 1230 children and adolescents aged 6 to 16 years. The aim of the study was to identify social and environmental factors and barriers associated with physical activity in a representative sample of children and adolescents living in Switzerland by using accelerometer devices.
In addition, the simultaneous assessment of objectively measured physical activity levels in one or both parents allowed analysing the influence of the familial environment on physical activity in youth. Finally the physical activity levels were linked to health outcomes.

In order to analyse developments of the physical activity behaviour and changes at the transition from childhood into adolescents and from adolescence into adulthood longitudinal data are needed. Therefore the same children, adolescents and young adults should be measured again in 2018/2019.

The SOPHYA2 Study

SOPHYA2 will be a follow up of children and parents who already participated in the baseline study of SOPHYA in 2014/2015 and who agreed to be re-contacted. Inclusion criteria for the baseline project were that children were born between 1992 and 2007, registered in Switzerland and that they (aged 12 years and older) or a parent/representative (proxy report for children aged 6 to 11) were able to answer questions in German, French or Italian. For the follow-up additional inclusion criteria were that the families agreed that they could be contacted again and that the child provided valid data at baseline.

First the families will be contacted by the survey institute LINK which invites the participants to answer some questions related to socio-demographic factors and sport activities. At the end of the interview the families will be asked whether the child (and one or both parent(s)) is interested to wear an accelerometer during one week and whether the SOPHYA study team is allowed to contact them. Accelerometers will be sent to the consenting families by mail. In addition, questionnaires with questions on health, lifestyle, well-being, injuries of the child, and perceptions of the local neighbourhood will be sent to the families. A new aspect is that the participant will be asked for a bloodspot obtained via a finger prick in order to conduct some epigenetic analyses. Objective environmental data (street density, green spaces etc.) can be allocated individually using the coordinates of the children’s address.

In 2019/2020 the SOPHYA cohort will be enlarged by a new sample of 6 to 10 year old children. They will be recruited via registry data. Instead of a telephone interview the parents will fill in an online questionnaire. Apart from that, the design is identical to that described for the SOPHYA cohort.

As for the baseline SOPHYA study there will be a collaboration between the Swiss TPH (study lead and responsible for the data collection in the German speaking part of Switzerland), the Université de Lausanne (Prof. Dr Bengt Kayser, responsible for the data collection in the French speaking part of Switzerland) and the Univeristà della Svizzera italiana (Prof. Dr L. Suzanne Suggs, responsible for the data collection in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland). The study is supported by the Federal Office of Sport FOSPO, the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH and Health Promotion Switzerland.