In combination with healthy eating, physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle that can help prevent a range of chronic diseases among children. As role models and gatekeepers, parents can influence children's eating and physical activity behaviors through healthy practices, helping and teaching children to make healthy choices for themselves that will last a lifetime.
To investigate the associations between demographic characteristics, parental feeding practices, and child physical activity in preschool-age children.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Participants of this cross-sectional study included parents (n = 273) of preschool-age children ages 3 to 5 years, recruited from early childhood education centers (n = 24).
Independent variables (IVs) included parent and child demographics, parent weight status, feeding practices, parent role modeling, home meal preparation, and child fruit and vegetable consumption. Binary dependent variables (DVs) included participation in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and participation in physical activity for more than 60 minutes a day (TPA). Logistic regression models determined associations between IVs and DVs.
The participant's married status (OR = 3.625, CI = 3.609-3.641), child weight (OR = 2.920, CI = 2.905-2.935), and less spousal meal preparation (OR = 0.450, CI = 0.448-0.451) were associated with MVPA. On the other hand, lower parent weight (OR = 0.366, CI = 0.364-0.368), less food restriction (OR = 0.509, CI = 0.508-0.511), and more food monitoring (OR = 1.618, CI = 1.615-1.622) were associated with TPA.
Overall, the results suggest that parent characteristics and feeding practices are associated with child physical activity. Addressing this interconnectedness between eating and physical activity will allow families and providers to better understand how to promote healthy behaviors in children.