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Parental Behavior in Relation to Physical Activity and Fitness in 9-Year-Old Children

James F. Sallis, PhD; John E. Alcaraz, PhD; Thomas L. McKenzie, PhD; Melbourne F. Hovell, PhD, MPH; Bohdan Kolody, PhD; Philip R. Nader, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1992;146(11):1383-1388. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1992.02160230141035.
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• Objective.  —To examine the relationship between parental behaviors and physical activity and fitness in elementary school—aged children.

Design.  —Cross-sectional survey of students and parents.

Setting  .—Seven public elementary schools in a suburban southern California city.

Participants.  —One hundred forty-eight fourth-grade girls and 149 fourth-grade boys and their parents. Eighty-four percent were white.

Interventions.  —None.

Measurements/Main Results.  —Children's physical activity was indicated by self-report, data obtained from a monitor (accelerometer), and results of the mile run/walk. Multiple regression analysis, controlling for ethnicity and body mass index, was conducted separately for girls and boys to explain variation in child activity and fitness. Parents' reported physical activity was not associated with child activity or fitness. However, availability of transportation by parents to sport and fitness activities was significant (or nearly so) in two regressions for boys and in one regression for girls. Parents who played with their children had more active boys, based on self-report, but verbal encouragement to be active was not significant in any model.

Conclusion.  —The parental role as gatekeeper of access to activity and sport facilities deserves further study.(AJDC. 1992;146:1383-1388)


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