Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science


Epidemiology and Biostatistics


Elton-Marshall, Tara

2nd Supervisor

Wells, Samantha


Given that physical activity is essential for optimal health, it is important to identify behaviours that may contribute to low levels of physical activity. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between gambling and physical activity among adolescents in Ontario using data from the 2017 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS). Multivariable generalized ordinal logistic regression models were used to examine the association between past-year gambling (status and modality) and past-week physical activity among a representative sample of Grade 7-12 students, while adjusting for covariates. We also tested for multiplicative effect measure modification by sex. Neither gambling status nor modality was associated with physical activity and no evidence of effect measure modification of either association by sex was found. While these behaviours may not be associated, gambling and inadequate physical activity nonetheless represent important public health concerns for adolescents.

Summary for Lay Audience

Physical activity is an important part of healthy living. In Canada, physicians and scientists recommend that children and youth should participate in physical activity that causes them to sweat and breathe harder than usual for at least 60 minutes each day (total time accumulated throughout the day). Physical activity of this intensity is known as “moderate-to-vigorous physical activity” (MVPA).

Some research suggests that young people are replacing physical activity with activities that mostly involve sitting (sedentary behaviours). This phenomenon often referred to as “displacement.” Because physical activity protects against many chronic diseases, the possible displacement of physical activity by sedentary behaviours is a public health concern.

The present study examined the association between gambling behaviours and physical activity among Ontario youth in grades 7-12 using data from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS). All data used in this study were collected in school classrooms between November 2016 and June 2017 and each student who provided data was surveyed only once. For the purposes of this study, gambling was assumed to be largely sedentary. Data analysis was performed using the computer program Stata.

We did not find evidence that student gamblers are any more or less active than student non-gamblers in Ontario (no displacement). However, about 1 in 3 (~35%) students gambled and only about 1 in 5 (~21%) got the recommended 60 minutes of MVPA every day; both gambling participation and low physical activity represent important public health concerns for adolescents. In order to create effective public health campaigns aimed at increasing the level of activity among young people, we recommend that researchers continue working to identify reasons that young people choose to be (or choose to not be) physically active. As well, our study should be repeated using improved survey questions. Since adult patterns of physical activity are often established during adolescence, increasing physical activity of young people is expected to have widespread public health benefits.

Available for download on Friday, July 23, 2021