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Am J Prev Med. 2011 Oct;41(4):399-406. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.06.037.

Neighborhood and parental supports for physical activity in minority adolescents.

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Department of Psychology, Barnwell College, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA.



Few studies have examined environmental, home, and parental supports for physical activity in underserved adolescents (low income, ethnic minority). Given the increasing incidence of obesity in minority adolescents, it is important to better understand ecologic determinants of physical activity in these youth. This study used an ecologic model to evaluate the significance of neighborhood, home, and parental supports for physical activity on moderate-to-vigorous (MV) physical activity in underserved adolescents.


The study was a secondary data analysis of a randomized controlled school-based trial "Active by Choice Today" (ACT) for increasing physical activity in underserved sixth-graders. Schools were matched on school size, percentage minorities, percentage entitled to free or reduced-price lunch, and urban or rural setting prior to randomization. This study used a randomly selected sample of parents (n=280) from the intervention and control schools whose adolescent was enrolled in the larger trial.


A total of 679 6th-grade students (mean age=11.4 years, 70% African-American, 76% free or reduced-price lunch, 52% female) participated in the larger trial. Parents of 280 youth were contacted to participate in a telephone survey and 198 (71%) took part in the study.


The ACT trial was designed to test the efficacy of a 17-week (1 academic year) motivational plus behavioral skills intervention versus comparison after-school programs on increasing physical activity. A telephone survey was developed and was administered within 6 months after the trial began on parents of 198 adolescents from the ACT randomized school-based trial during 2005-2007.


The primary outcome measure was adolescent MVPA based on 7-day accelerometry estimates from baseline to mid-intervention. The data were analyzed in 2010-2011 and included both parent and adolescent self-reports of environmental, home, and family supports for physical activity.


Regression analyses indicated a significant effect of parental and neighborhood supports for physical activity on adolescent MVPA. Adolescents who perceived higher (vs lower) levels of parental support for physical activity engaged in more minutes of MVPA (B=3.01, SE=1.38, p<0.05) at mid-intervention. Adolescents who lived in neighborhoods with more (vs fewer) supports for physical activity (parks, lighting), also engaged in more minutes MVPA (B=4.27, SE=2.15, p<0.05).


Support from parents and neighborhood quality are both associated with increased physical activity in underserved adolescents.

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