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Prev Med. 2010 Mar;50(3):129-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.11.010. Epub 2009 Dec 3.

Parental influences on physical activity behavior in preschool children.

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Department of Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.



To evaluate a conceptual model linking parent physical activity (PA) orientations, parental support for PA, and PA behavior in preschool children.


Participants were 156 parent-child dyads from 13 child care centers in Queensland, Australia. Parents completed a questionnaire measuring parental PA, parental enjoyment of PA, perceived importance of PA, parental support for PA, parents' perceptions of competence, and child PA at home. MVPA while attending child care was measured via accelerometry. Data were collected between May and August of 2003. The relationships between the study variables and child PA were tested using observed variable path analysis.


Parental PA and parents' perceptions of competence were positively associated with parental support for PA (beta=0.23 and 0.18, respectively, p<0.05). Parental support, in turn, was positively associated with child PA at home (beta=0.16, p<0.05), but not at child care (beta=0.01, p=0.94). Parents' perceptions of competence was positively associated with both home-based and child care PA (beta=0.20 and 0.28, respectively, p<0.05).


Family-based interventions targeting preschoolers should include strategies to increase parental support for PA. Parents who perceive their child to have low physical competence should be encouraged to provide adequate support for PA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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