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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Parent and child physical activity and sedentary time: Do active parents foster active children?

Russell Jago*, Kenneth R Fox, Angie S Page, Rowan Brockman and Janice L Thompson

Author Affiliations

Department of Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences, Centre for Sport, Exercise & Health, University of Bristol, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TP, UK

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:194  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-194

Published: 15 April 2010

Abstract

Background

Physical activity has many positive effects on children's health while TV viewing has been associated with adverse health outcomes. Many children do not meet physical activity recommendations and exceed TV viewing guidelines. Parents are likely to be an important influence on their children's behaviour. There is an absence of information about the associations between parents' and children's physical activity and TV viewing.

Methods

Year 6 children and their parent were recruited from 40 primary schools. Results are presented for the 340 parent-child dyads with accelerometer data that met a ≥ 3 day inclusion criteria and the 431 parent-child dyads with complete self-reported TV viewing. Over 80% of the dyads with valid TV viewing data included mothers and their child. Mean minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), minutes of sedentary time per day and counts per minute were assessed by accelerometer. Self-reported hours of TV viewing were coded into 3 groups (< 2 hours per day, 2-4 hours per day and >4 hours per day. Linear and multi-nominal regression models were run by child gender to examine parent-child associations.

Results

In linear regression models there was an association for the overall sedentary time of girls and their parents (t = 2.04. p = .020) but there was no association between girls' and parents' physical activity. There were no associations between parents' and boys' sedentary or physical activity time. For girls, the risk of watching more than 4 hours of TV per day, (reference = 2 hours of TV per day), was 3.67 times higher if the girl's parent watched 2-4 hours of TV per day (p = 0.037). For boys, the risk of watching more than 4 hours of TV per day, was 10.47 times higher if the boy's parent watched more than 4 hours of TV per day (p = 0.038).

Conclusions

There are associations in the sedentary time of parents and daughters. Higher parental TV viewing was associated with an increased risk of high levels of TV viewing for both boys and girls. There were no associations between the time that parents and children spend engaged in physical activity.