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Health Educ Res. 2010 Apr;25(2):199-210. doi: 10.1093/her/cyn025. Epub 2008 May 22.

Understanding children's sedentary behaviour: a qualitative study of the family home environment.

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  • 1School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Nedlands WA 6009, Western Australia.


Electronic media (EM) (television, electronic games and computer) use has been associated with overweight and obesity among children. Little is known about the time spent in sedentary behaviour (SB) among children within the family context. The aim of this study was to explore how the family home environment may influence children's electronic-based SB. Focus groups and family interviews were conducted with 11- to 12-year old children (n = 54) and their parents (n = 38) using a semi-structured discussion guide. Transcripts were analysed using a thematic content approach. A brief self-completed questionnaire was also used to measure leisure behaviour and electronic devices at home. Children incorporated both sedentary and physical activities into their weekly routine. Factors influencing children's EM use included parent and sibling modelling and reinforcement, personal cognitions, the physical home environment and household EM use rules and restrictions. Participants were not concerned about the excessive time children spent with EM. This under-recognition emerged as a personal influencing factor and was viewed as a major barrier to modifying children's electronic-based SB. Efforts to reduce SB in children should focus on the influencing factors that reciprocally interact within the family home. An emphasis on increasing awareness about the risks associated with spending excessive time in screen-based activities should be a priority when developing intervention strategies aimed at modifying the time children spend in SB.

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