An Overview of Physical Activity Research Evolution in Africa: The Global Observatory for Physical Activity—GoPA!

Adewale L. Oyeyemi, Andrea Ramirez Varela, Estelle V. Lambert, Eduardo Ribes Kohn, Pedro C. Hallal, Michael Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To describe the evolution of physical activity (PA) research in Africa, examine income and gender inequalities, and discuss future possibilities. Methods: A secondary analyses of the Global Observatory for Physical Activity data on PA research in Africa (1950–2019). Results: We identified 514 PA articles from 47 African countries in the past 70 years. Majority (83.1%) of the articles were published between 2012 and 2019. Fifteen countries had no publications. Six countries (South Africa [n = 156], Nigeria [n = 85], Ethiopia [n = 44], Ghana [n = 41], Kenya [n = 39], and Cameroon [n = 20]) accounted for about 75% of the publications. Most articles were observational (92.4%), single-country studies (78.4%), with male first (58.4%) and last authors (68%), and were classified as surveillance studies (45.1%). Few studies addressed interventions (5.8%) and policy (3.5%) or used device-based PA measurement (14.0%). The number of articles per country was positively related to human population level (r = .552, P = .000) and gross domestic product % spent on research and development (r = .301, P = .040). The publication rate per 100,000 people was positively related with the human development index (r = .349, P = .016) and negatively with the gender inequality index (r = −.360, P = .019). Conclusions: Our results provide an overview and status of PA research in Africa, highlighting country differences and gender inequalities in authorship. The findings may be used to benchmark the evolution of research in the region and to inform areas for improvement. There is an urgent need for more PA interventions and policy studies in Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-444
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Activity and Health
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2024

Keywords

  • active living
  • gender inequality
  • low- and middle-income countries
  • physical inactivity
  • public health
  • publication authorship
  • surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Epidemiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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