Bidirectional associations between activity-related parenting practices, and child physical activity, sedentary screen-based behavior and body mass index: a longitudinal analysis

Ester F. C. Sleddens, Jessica S. Gubbels*, Stef P. J. Kremers, Eline van der Plas, Carel Thijs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Background: It has been generally assumed that activity-related parenting practices influence children's activity behavior and weight status. However, vice versa parents may also change their parenting behaviors in response to their perceptions of their child's activity behavior and weight status. This study examined the bidirectional relationships between activity-related parenting practices, and physical activity, sedentary screen-based behavior, and body mass index (BMI) between children's age of 5 and 7 years.

Methods: Three scales of the Activity-related Parenting Questionnaire (i.e. 'restriction of sedentary behavior', 'stimulation of physical activity', and 'monitoring of physical activity') were completed by 1694 parents of the Dutch KOALA Birth Cohort Study at the child's age of around 5 and again around age 7. Physical activity, sedentary screen-based behavior and BMI were measured at both ages as well. Linear regression models were used to estimate the bidirectional associations between each parenting practice and the child's physical activity levels, sedentary screen-based behavior and BMI z-scores.

Results: Several parenting practices at age 5 predicted child physical activity, sedentary screen-based behavior, and BMI z-scores at age 7. Restriction of sedentary behavior positively predicted child BMI and sedentary screen-based behavior, whereas this practice negatively predicted child physical activity. In addition, stimulation of physical activity at age 5 was significantly associated with higher levels of child physical activity at age 7. The following child factors at age 5 predicted parenting practices at age 7: Child physical activity positively predicted parental stimulation of physical activity and monitoring activities. Sedentary screen-based behavior was associated with lower parental stimulation to be active.

Conclusions: Findings generally revealed that parents and children mutually influence each other's behavior. A reinforcing feedback loop was present between parental stimulation of physical activity and child physical activity. Bidirectional parent-child interaction should be considered in future research in order to properly inform parenting-related intervention programs aimed at preventing or treating childhood overweight or obesity. System dynamic methods to explore the existence of reinforcing or balancing loops are needed in this regard.

Original languageEnglish
Article number89
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2017

Keywords

  • Activity-related parenting practices
  • Bidirectional associations
  • Body mass index
  • Children
  • Physical activity
  • Sedentary screen-based behavior
  • MATERNAL FEEDING PRACTICES
  • KOALA BIRTH COHORT
  • OVERWEIGHT
  • WEIGHT
  • OBESITY
  • STYLE
  • FOOD

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