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U of S professor Nazeem Muhajarine (left) and Larisa Lotoski. Lotoski has received an award from a national association recognizing her work on children's physical activity levels. (Photo credit: Kristen McEwen for the University of Saskatchewan).

U of S student wins CPHA award for researching Saskatoon children’s physical activity

This work holds the potential for helping the design and development of neighbourhoods that encourage active living in all seasons in the city.

Research into why children stay inactive in different seasons throughout the year has earned University of Saskatchewan student Larisa Lotoski the 2018 Dr. John Hastings Student Award from the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA).

Lotoski, a PhD student in the U of S department of community health and epidemiology and in the Saskatchewan Population Health Evaluation and Research Unit, received the award last week at the CPHA’s annual conference. She presented her work in a three-minute presentation competition against nine other students with top-rated abstracts.

“This prestigious award recognizes excellence in early career academic research,” said community health and epidemiology professor Nazeem Muhajarine, Lotoski’s supervisor. “Larisa’s work has the potential to improve children’s health by helping the design and development of neighbourhoods and schools that encourage active living in all seasons in Saskatoon.”

Lotoski’s one-year study on almost 800 children aged nine to 14 years has shown that youth living in established Saskatoon neighbourhoods with more things to see and do were more inclined to be physically active than children living in newer neighbourhoods.

“Even though new neighborhoods are safer and more activity-friendly, they presented fewer amenities and children were more sedentary as a result,” said Lotoski.

She also found that girls became less active with age compared to boys, and children’s sedentary behaviour increased overall in spring and summer, as compared to winter months.

Lotoski hopes her project will help public health policy makers shape new urban development projects.

The award recognizes Dr. John Hastings, a lecturer at the University of Toronto in the 1950s, who was an advocate for community health service and completed a report for the Hall Royal Commission on Health Services in 1965.

Federica Giannelli is a graduate student intern in the U of S research profile and impact office.

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