Report card grades on physical activity for children and adolescents from 18 Asian countries: Patterns, trends, gaps, and future recommendations
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Background/Objective: Physical inactivity is a persistent and worsening population health concern in Asia. Led by the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance, Global Matrix (GM) initiative provides an opportunity to explore how regional and cultural differences across 18 Asian countries relate to physical activity (PA) participation among children and adolescents. The purpose of study was to synthesize evidence from the GM2.0 to GM4.0 (2016e2022) in Asian countries. Methods: Report Card grades on behavioral/individual and sources of influence indicators were reported from 18 Asian countries. Letter grades were converted into numerical values for quantitative analyses. Based on this, cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses were conducted to investigate patterns and trends. Qualitative evidence synthesis was performed based on Report Card grades and published papers to identify gaps and suggest future recommendations. Results: In total, 18 countries provided grades for at least one round of GM, 12 countries provided grades for at least two rounds, and seven countries provided grades for all three GMs. Of possible grades, 72.8%, 69.2%, and 76.9% of the grades were assigned from GM 2.0 to GM 4.0, respectively. In terms of the Report Card grades, there was a slight decrease in behavioral/individual indicators from “Dþ” in GM 2.0 to “D-” in GM 3.0 but this reverted to “D” in GM 4.0. For the sources of influence, a “C” grade was given in all three rounds of GM. Longitudinal observation of seven Asian countries that provided grades in all three rounds of GM revealed that grades are generally stable for all indicators with some country-specific fluctuations. In future GM initiatives and research, considerations should be made to provide more accurate and rich data and to better understand contextual challenges in evaluating certain indicators such as Active Transportation, Active Play, and Physical Fitness in particular. Further, macro level factors such as socioeconomic/cultural disparities and gender-specific barriers, ideology, or climate change should also be proactively considered in future research as these factors are becoming increasingly relevant to indicators of GM and United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. Conclusions: Participation from Asian countries in GM has increased over the years, which demonstrates the region's enthusiasm, capacity, and support for global PA promotion efforts. The efforts to promote a physically active lifestyle among children and adolescents should be a collective interest and priority of the Asia region based on the gaps identified in this paper.