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Am J Public Health. 2013 Jul;103(7):e23-38. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301366. Epub 2013 May 16.

Influence of friends on children's physical activity: a review.

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Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.


We examined evidence for friendship influences on children's physical activity (PA) through systematic searches of online databases in May 2012. We identified 106 studies (25 qualitative) published in English since 2000 that analyzed indicators of friendship influences (e.g., communication about PA, friends' PA, and PA with friends) among persons younger than 19 years. Children's PA was positively associated with encouragement from friends (43 of 55 studies indicating a positive relationship), friends' own PA (30/35), and engagement with friends in PA (9/10). These findings are consistent with friends influencing PA, but most studies did not isolate influence from other factors that could explain similarity. Understanding friendship influences in childhood can facilitate the promotion of lifelong healthy habits. PA with friends should be considered in health promotion programs.

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