Association between parent and child physical activity: a systematic review

Therese Lockenwitz Petersen, Liselotte Bang Møller, Jan Christian Brønd, Randi Jepsen, Anders Grøntved

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftsartikelForskningpeer review


Childhood represents an important life stage for establishment of physical activity (PA) habits. Parents are assumed to play an important role in influencing children’s PA. Earlier reviews have mainly focused on parental modelling, encouragement, and support for PA, rather than the actual PA levels of parents. Therefore, the purpose of this review was to systematically summarize the evidence on the relationship between parent and child PA.

Papers were identified using electronic databases and manual searches of reference lists. Papers reporting on associations between objectively measured child PA and at least one measure of parental PA were included. The quality of the papers was assessed using a modified version of the ROBINS-I tool. For interpretation of the results across studies, we produced albatross plots for all studies combined and by age-groups, sex of the parents, sex of the child, methodology of assessment of parental PA, and type of PA.

Thirty-nine papers were included with sample size of parent-child dyads ranging from 15 to 1267 (mean = 319 dyads, median = 227 dyads). The majority of studies were published from 2008 to 2018 and used accelerometry to assess PA. Most of the studies were classified as having moderate, serious, or critical risk of bias. The albatross plot for all studies combined showed that the clear majority of studies observed a positive relationship between parent and child PA. The plot suggested an average magnitude of correlation across studies to be around 0.13, and the overall impression was that this was fairly similar across child age-groups and gender of parent-child dyads. Studies using objective assessment of parental PA showed stronger relationship between parent and child PA compared with studies using self-report (average magnitude of correlation around 0.16 vs 0.04 respectively). No clear evidence was found for the strength of relationship being dependent on type of PA measure of parent and child (total PA, moderate-to-vigorous PA, steps), however, the relationship for light PA appeared weaker.

This systematic review showed that the clear majority of studies observed a weak positive relationship between parent and child PA regardless of age of the child, the gender of the parent-child dyad, and type of PA.
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Udgave nummer67
StatusUdgivet - 18 maj 2020


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