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Can J Public Health. 2010 Mar-Apr;101(2):124-7.

Parents' perception of neighbourhood environment as a determinant of screen time, physical activity and active transport.

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  • 1Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.



To study the importance of parents' perception of neighbourhood environment for health behaviours such as screen time, physical activity, and active transport in a Canadian context.


As part of the REAL Kids Alberta project, 3,421 grade five students from 148 randomly selected schools in Alberta and their parents were surveyed in the spring of 2008. Physical activity was assessed by self-report using an adapted version of the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Older Children (PAQ-C). Screen time and active transport (walking and biking) was assessed by parent proxy reports. Parents were also surveyed on their perception of their neighbourhoods. These responses were reduced to three components (satisfaction/services, safety, sidewalks/parks) through principal component analysis. Subsequent multilevel logistic regression analyses were conducted to quantify the associations of these principal neighbourhood components with screen time, physical activity, and active transport.


Children residing in neighbourhoods with good satisfaction/services and sidewalks/parks were significantly more likely to engage in 2 hours or less of screen time and to be physically active. Children in neighbourhoods with good sidewalks/parks were also more likely to engage in active transport to and from school. However, perceived neighbourhood safety had little impact on activity.


The findings suggest physical activity and active transport may be increased and sedentary behaviours reduced through 1) increasing access to parks, playgrounds, and play spaces, 2) increasing access to sports and recreation programs, and 3) provision of sidewalks such that children and youth can walk or bike to school.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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