A study on physical activity in youth and children

La Prof. Suggs
La Prof. Suggs

Institutional Communication Service

10 May 2016

Professor Suzanne Suggs (Social Marketing at USI Institute of Public Communication, Faculty of Communication Sciences) took part in the study SOPHYA on physical activity in Swiss youth and children between the age of 6 and 16. The study has been published by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH).

 In 2013 the Swiss TPH launched SOPHYA (Swiss children's Objectively measured PHYsical Activity) to objectively measure physical activity in a group of 1300 Swiss children and youth between the age of 6 and 16, and highlight positive and negative influences. Results were collected through surveys, but also with the use of an accelerometer worn by participants for 7 days in a row.

 According to measurements, participants are physically active about 79 minutes per day, and 64% of them meet the recommendations of a minimum of 60 minutes of daily activity. The results show great differences between genders; boys are more active than girls, and for both, the amount of physical activity decreases as they get older.

 Other results of SOPHYA:

  1. Children with siblings are more physically active than only children. 61.6% of the latter meet recommendations, whereas in families with four or more children the average is 72.4%. Children with active parents move considerably more than children with parents who do not practice sport.
  2. Elective school sports activities is the main reason for children and youth physical activity, especially in those who are members of sports club.
  3. Activities carried out in sports club have a strong impact already for children from the age of 10.
  4. The differences between linguistic regions are as follows: German-speaking Swiss children are more active than French and Italian-speaking children.
  5. Gender differences have also been confirmed: boys (89 minutes daily) are more active than girls (69 minutes).
  6. Physical activity in the group between age 6 and 16 decreases as the kids grow older.


According to the survey, less privileged children or foreigners are rarely active. In the same group of participants, it was not possible to confirm this discrepancy with the accelerometer.

The study has been directed by Bettina Bringolf-Isler and Nicole Probst-Hensch (both Swiss TPH). Responsible for the fieldwork were Bettina Bringolf (Swiss German Speaking region), Bengt Kayser (Uni Lausanne/Swiss French-speaking region) and Suzanne Suggs (Università della Svizzera italiana/Ticino). The study was supported by the Federal Office of Public Health UFSP, by the Swiss Health Promotion, and by the Sport Federal Office UFSPO.