Parent awareness of young children's physical activity

Kirsten Corder, Noe C. Crespo, Esther M.F. van Sluijs, Nanette V. Lopez, John P. Elder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objective: Parents who overestimate their child's physical activity (PA) level may not encourage their children to increase their PA. We assessed parental awareness of child PA, and investigated potential ßcorrelates of overestimation. Method: Child PA (accelerometer) and parent-classified child PA ['active' ≥ 60. min/day vs. 'inactive' < 60 min/day moderate and vigorous PA (MVPA)] were measured over 7 days [n=329, 44% male, 39% Latino; mean (SD) 9.1 (0.7). years] in an obesity prevention study in San Diego (Project MOVE). Agreement between date-matched objective MVPA and parent-classified child PA was assessed; % days parental overestimation was the outcome variable. Associations between parental overestimation and potential correlates were investigated using three-level mixed-effects linear regression. Results: Children met the PA guidelines on 43% of days. Parents overestimated their children's PA on 75% of days when children were inactive. Most parents (80%) overestimated their child's PA on ≥ 1 measurement day. Parental support for child PA (transport, encouragement and participation with child) (p<0.01) was positively associated with higher overestimation. Parents of girls showed more overestimation than parents of boys (p = 0.04). Conclusion: Most parents incorrectly classified their child as active when their child was inactive. Strategies addressing parental overestimation may be important in PA promotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-205
Number of pages5
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Child behavior
  • Children
  • MVPA
  • Overestimation
  • PA
  • Parental awareness
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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