Biorepository Project Finds That Friends May Help Keep Children Active

Biobanking software

Much of the buzz surrounding biobanking is related to the contributions this industry makes to environmental research and translational medicine by collecting, storing and testing various samples. However, biorepository management is about more than just tissues, blood and other biological data: biobanking software is also used to store and track a variety of information, such as family history and lifestyle data. Recently, this side of biorepository management was used to bring a potentially useful finding to the forefront: a biobanking project found that children are more likely to pursue physical activity when they do so with a friend.

Researchers discovered this fact while interviewing 104 children and adolescents as part of the Biorepository of Environment, Activity and Nutrition to Prevent Obesity-related Disorders (BEANPOD) study. Of these participants, 74% were female, 47% were Caucasian, and the average age was 12.5. All were asked to rank 10 potential benefits and 15 potential barriers to physical therapy. They also noted the degree to which friends and family became involved with their activity level, encouraged physical activity but did not get involved, and the amount of time they spent playing sports every week.

In a report presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology/Lifestyle Scientific Sessions 2015, most of the children felt discouraged from participating in physical activity by feelings of self-consciousness, poor health, a lack of self discipline and a lack of energy. But while 78% reported that their families encouraged their activity level, only between 36% and 48% of the participants said that their families and friends actually participated with them. However, when friends did get involved, the respondents reported fewer perceived barriers and were more likely to be in the most physically active category.

While not the type of research usually associated with biorepository management, this information will likely be able to inform further projects and can begin to help shape how we encourage physical activity in children. After all, physical activity can help prevent weight gain, reduce obesity levels, and help prevent a number of medical conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. With this new data, parents and physicians may have reason to encourage and pursue group sports and activities, as it reportedly increases the likelihood that children will stay engaged. Clinicians have also speculated that this finding supports theories about the influence of a social network as a child ages.