Parental influences on adolescents' physical activity and sedentary behavior: Longitudinal findings from Project EAT-II

Katherine W. Bauer, Melissa C. Nelson, Kerri N. Boutelle, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

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84 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The long-term role that parental encouragement and attitudes about fitness and exercise play in adolescents' physical activity and sedentary behavior habits remains unclear. This paper aims to longitudinally examine how parental encouragement to be physically active and parental concern about staying fit are associated with adolescents' physical activity and sedentary behavior habits five years later. Methods: Project EAT-II adolescent and young adult participants (1130 male, 1386 female) completed surveys while in middle school or high school (1998-1999), and again 5 years later. Participants were asked whether their mother and father encourage them to be physically active and care about staying fit and exercising. Adolescent moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and TV/video watching (hours/week) were assessed. Linear regression models adjusted for socio-demographic characteristics and baseline behavior were used to examine the association of Time 1 parental factors with behavioral outcomes among adolescents and young adults five years later (Time 2). Results: After adjustment for socio-demographic characteristics and baseline MVPA, adolescent-reported maternal and paternal encouragement to be active, and paternal care for fitness, were positively associated with weekly hours of MVPA after five years in young adult males (p for trend ≤ .01). The positive relationship between maternal encouragement and MVPA approached significance among high-school aged females (p for trend = .06), and paternal encouragement was positively related to MVPA among high-school aged males (p for trend = .02). While maternal encouragement to be active was associated with decreased TV/ video time among younger females (p for trend = .02), other parental factors were not associated with lower TV/video time among the other groups. Conclusion: Parental encouragement to be active was associated with increased physical activity among males and younger females 5 years later. Younger adolescents appear to be especially influenced by their same-sex parent. These findings suggest that encouragement may be more influential than parental concern for fitness on adolescents' physical activity habits. Further research is needed to determine how parents can help adolescents decrease sedentary behavior time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 26 2008

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