2016-06-20Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.5960/dzsm.2016.238
Social Determinants of Swimming Ability among Children and Adolescents in Germany. Results of KiGGS Wave 1
Background: Swimming is a leisure activity with great potential for promoting health and development. This article examines the proportion of children and adolescents in Germany who are unable to swim, taking into account age, gender, socioeconomic status (SES) and migration background. Methods: Data were obtained from the first follow-up of the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS Wave 1), conducted by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) from 2009 to 2012. Information regarding the swimming ability of 5- to 17-year-olds (n=9,750) was collected by telephone interviews. The SES index is a composite measure of parents‘ education, occupational status and income. Migration background refers to country of birth and nationality of both parents and child. Results: In total, 14.5% of 5- to 17-year-olds in Germany were unable to swim. At pre- and elementary school age, prevalence was considerably higher, in adolescence much lower. Those who were able to swim acquired the ability at just over 6 years of age on average. Among children of primary school age, fewer boys than girls could swim. Girls also learned to swim 4 months earlier on average. Children and adolescents from low-SES families were more likely to be unable to swim than their peers with a high SES (OR=5.95; 95% CI=3.74-9.47). A two-sided migration background (both parents, or the child and one parent, immigrated) was also associated with an elevated odds of being unable to swim (OR=2.39; 95% CI=1.63-3.50). Conclusions: The KiGGS data show that a substantial proportion of children and adolescents in Germany are unable to swim. Initiatives promoting swimming ability should focus on socially disadvantaged children and adolescents and those with a two-sided migration background.
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