NIH: That’s the conclusion of NIH-funded researchers who found that in underserved populations, parents’ physical activity—and their sedentary behavior—directly correlates with the activity level of their preschoolers. Researchers say these findings, published January 9 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, could lead to interventions that focus more on helping parents model—not just encourage—an active lifestyle for their children.
In the U.S., children from low-income and ethnic minority families
are more likely to be obese. A 2015 report shows that fewer than half of
2- to 5-year-old children achieve the recommended daily minimum of 60
minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. This number is even
lower for Latino and African-American children, who are at a higher risk
of being overweight or obese.
Researchers funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
(NHLBI) collected data from more than one thousand low-income
parent-child pairs. About 75 percent of them were Latino and almost 10
percent were African American. Each parent and child wore an
accelerometer, a device that measures acceleration, for an average of 12
hours a day, for a week. When parents spent up to 40 minutes on
moderate to vigorous physical activity, so did their preschoolers.
Likewise, the data showed, when the parents were sedentary, so were
their children. Notably, this was the first study to link the physical
activity of parents and young children by objectively measuring it with
accelerometry for an extended period of time.
In addition to NHLBI funding, the study was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).