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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2009 Aug 14;6:56. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-6-56.

Interactions of socioeconomic position with psychosocial and environmental correlates of children's physical activity: an observational study of South Australian families.

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School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia.



Evidence for psychosocial and environmental correlates on children's physical activity is scattered and somewhat unconvincing. Further, the moderating influences of socioeconomic position (SEP) on these influences are largely unexplored. The aim of this study was to examine the interactions of SEP, operationalised by mother education, and predictors of children's physical activity based on the Youth Physical Activity Promotion Model.


In 2005, a sample of South Australians (10-15 y) was surveyed on psychosocial and environmental correlates of physical activity using the Children's Physical Activity Correlates Questionnaire (n = 3300) and a parent survey (n = 1720). The following constructs were derived: 'is it worth it?' (perceived outcomes); 'am I able?' (perceived competency); 'reinforcing' (parental support); and 'enabling' (parent-perceived barriers). Self-reported physical activity was represented by a global score derived from the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Adolescents. Associations among physical activity and hypothesised correlates were tested among children with mothers of high (university educated) and low (left school at or before 15 y) SEP.


Among high SEP children, 'is it worth it?' emerged as a significant predictor of physical activity for boys and girls. Among low SEP children, 'is it worth it?' predicted boys' physical activity, while among girls, 'reinforcing' was the only significant predictor, explaining ~35% of the total explained variance in physical activity.


While perceived outcomes emerged as a consistent predictor of physical activity in this sample, parental support was a powerful limiting factor among low SEP girls. Interventions among this high risk group should focus on supporting parents to provide both emotional and instrumental support for their daughters to engage in physical activity.

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