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J Sci Med Sport. 2010 Jul;13(4):403-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2009.05.008. Epub 2009 Jul 21.

Parent influences on preschoolers' objectively assessed physical activity.

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Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand.


The purposes of this study were to examine the relationship between accelerometer-derived physical activity (PA) in preschoolers and their parents, and to investigate other potential child and parental associates of child PA. Families of children aged 2-5 yrs were recruited in Auckland, New Zealand, from October 2006 to July 2007. Consenting children and parents had their height, weight, and waist circumference measured and were asked to wear accelerometers over 7 consecutive days, measuring PA in 15s epochs. Accelerometer data were gathered from 78 children, 62 mothers and 20 fathers over a median of 6.5-7 days, and converted to estimated daily PA rates for each individual using negative binomial generalised estimating equation (GEE) modelling. Potential associates of children's daily PA rates were then assessed using normal GEE models with exchangeable correlation structures. After taking account of all factors in the final multivariable model, parental PA rates (coefficient 0.09, 95% CI 0.03, 0.16, P=0.01) and child age (coefficient 0.11, 95% CI 0.01, 0.21, P=0.03) were the only factors significantly associated with child PA rates. Younger children may stand to benefit from PA intervention, and encouraging parental involvement in preschool PA interventions may be useful for increasing PA levels in young children. More work in this field is needed to corroborate these findings, improve generalisability, and determine causality.

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