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Arnold School of Public Health

Transitions and Activity Changes in Kids (TRACK)


The study proposes to examine the factors that influence change in physical activity in boys and girls as they transition from elementary to middle school. The proposed study will be unique in applying state-of-the-art measures and multi-level modeling strategies in examining the mechanisms that underlie change in physical activity during the transition from childhood to adolescence. The study's findings will markedly expand the body of knowledge regarding the influences on development of physical activity behavior in youth. The major objectives of the study are:

To determine the influences of personal social-cognitive, family, neighborhood, school, and community factors on changes in physical activity in African American and white boys and girls as they transition from elementary to middle school.
To examine the effects of gender, race and neighborhood environment on factors influencing changes in physical activity as African American and white children transition from elementary to middle school.


Recruitment began in the fall of 2010. Over 1100 5th graders were recruited to participate in the study. Each participant will complete all measures each year of the study, during their 5th grade, 6th grade and 7th grade years.

Project Details

Timeline: 2008 - 2012
Funding Source: NIH
Principal Investigator: Russell R. Pate
Co-Investigator(s): Ruth Saunders, Cheryl Addy, Rod Dishman, Natalie Colabianchi, Lyndie Carney-Forthofer, Dwayne Porter


Ross SE, Militello G, Dowda M,  Pate, RR. Changes in Diet Quality in Youth Living in South Carolina From Fifth to 11th Grade. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2020 April. [pdf]

Dishman RK, McIver KL, Dowda M, Pate RR. Declining Physical Activity and Motivation from Middle School to High School. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 2018 Jun;50(6):1206-15.[pdf]

Ross SE, Clennin MN, Dowda M, Colabianchi N, Pate RR. Stepping It Up: Walking Behaviors in Children Transitioning from 5th to 7th Grade. International journal of environmental research and public health. 2018 Feb 3;15(2):262.[pdf]

Saunders RP, Dowda M, Mciver K, McDonald SM, Pate RR. Physical and social contexts of physical activity behaviors of fifth and seventh grade youth. Journal of school health. 2018 Feb;88(2):122-31.[pdf]

Forthofer M, Dowda M, O’Neill JR, Addy CL, McDonald S, Reid L, Pate RR. Effect of Child Gender and Psychosocial Factors on Physical Activity From Fifth to Sixth Grade. Journal of physical activity and health. 2017 Dec 1;14(12):953-8.[pdf]

Barr-Anderson DJ, Flynn JI, Dowda M, Ross SE, Schenkelberg MA, Reid LA, Pate RR. The modifying effects of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status on the change in physical activity from elementary to middle school. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2017 Nov 1;61(5):562-70.[pdf]

Lau EY, Dowda M, McIver KL, Pate RR. Changes in physical activity in the school, afterschool, and evening periods during the transition from elementary to middle school. Journal of School Health. 2017 Jul;87(7):531-7.[pdf]

Dishman RK, Dowda M, McIver KL, Saunders RP, Pate RR. Naturally-occurring changes in social-cognitive factors modify change in physical activity during early adolescence. PloS one. 2017 Feb 10;12(2):e0172040.[pdf]

Dowda M, Taverno Ross SE, McIver KL, Dishman RK, Pate RR. Physical activity and changes in adiposity in the transition from elementary to middle school. Childhood Obesity. 2017 Feb 1;13(1):53-62.[pdf]

Colabianchi N, Griffin JL, McIver KL, Dowda M, Pate RR. Where are children active and does it matter for physical activity? A latent transition analysis. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2016 Dec;13(12):1294-300.[pdf]

Ross T, Sharon E, Dowda M, Dishman RK, Pate RR. Classes of physical activity and sedentary behavior in 5th grade children. American journal of health behavior. 2016 May 1;40(3):352-61.[pdf]

Forthofer M, Dowda M, McIver K, Barr-Anderson DJ, Pate R. Associations between maternal support and physical activity among 5th grade students. Maternal and child health journal. 2016 Mar 1;20(3):720-9.[pdf]

Dishman RK, McIver KL, Dowda M, Saunders RP, Pate RR. Motivation and behavioral regulation of physical activity in middle-school students. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 2015 Sep;47(9):1913.[pdf]

McDonald S, Dowda M, Colabianchi N, Porter D, Dishman RK, Pate RR. Perceptions of the neighborhood environment and children’s afterschool moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Pediatric exercise science. 2015 May;27(2):243-51.[pdf]

Lau EY, Barr-Anderson DJ, Dowda M, Forthofer M, Saunders RP, Pate RR. Associations between home environment and after-school physical activity and sedentary time among 6th grade children. Pediatric exercise science. 2015 May;27(2):226-33.[pdf]

Taverno Ross SE, Byun W, Dowda M, McIver KL, Saunders RP, Pate RR. Sedentary behaviors in fifth-grade boys and girls: where, with whom, and why?. Childhood Obesity. 2013 Dec 1;9(6):532-9.[pdf]

Dishman RK, Saunders RP, McIver KL, Dowda M, Pate RR. Construct validity of selected measures of physical activity beliefs and motives in fifth and sixth grade boys and girls. Journal of pediatric psychology. 2013 Mar 4;38(5):563-76.[pdf]

Ross ST, Dowda M, Colabianchi N, Saunders R, Pate RR. After-school setting, physical activity, and sedentary behavior in 5th grade boys and girls. Health & place. 2012 Sep 1;18(5):951-5.[pdf]

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