INTRODUCTION: In the U.S., children from low-income families are more likely to be obese. The impact of parent modeling of physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviors in low-income American ethnic minorities is unclear, and studies examining objective measures of preschooler and parent PA are sparse.
METHODS: This cross-sectional study examined 1,003 parent-child pairs who were of low income, largely Latino and African American, and living in one of two geographically disparate metropolitan areas in the U.S. Parents and children wore GT3X/GT3X+ accelerometers for an average of >12 hours/day (7:00am-9:00pm) for 1 week (September 2012 to May 2014). Analysis occurred in 2015-2016.
RESULTS: About 75% of children were Latino and >10% were African American. Mean child age was 3.9 years. The majority of children (60%) were normal weight (BMI ≥50th and <85th percentiles), and more than a third were overweight/obese. Children's total PA was 6.03 hours/day, with 1.5 hours spent in moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA). Covariate-adjusted models showed a monotonic, positive association between parent and child minutes of sedentary behavior (β=0.10, 95% CI=0.06, 0.15) and light PA (β=0.06; 95% CI=0.03, 0.09). Child and parent MVPA were positively associated up to 40 minutes/day of parent MVPA, but an inverse association was observed when parental MVPA was beyond 40 minutes/day (p=0.002).
CONCLUSIONS: Increasing parental PA and reducing sedentary behavior correlate with increased PA-related behaviors in children. However, more work is needed to understand the impact of high levels of parental MVPA on the MVPA levels of their children.