Submitted to: Health Psychology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/2/2009
Publication Date: 7/1/2009
Citation: Anderson, C.B., Hughes, S.0., Fuemmeler, B.F. 2009. Parent-child attitude congruence on type and intensity of physical activity: Testing multiple mediators of sedentary behavior in older children. Health Psychology. 28(4):428-438. Interpretive Summary: This study evaluated the similarity of parent and child attitudes on the value of specific types and intensities of physical activities and household chores. Fourth and fifth-graders and parents rated the importance of vigorous-intensity team sports and activities that could be performed individually, moderate-intensity team, and individual physical activities, and vigorous and moderate-intensity household chores. Results indicated that positive parent-child attitudes for the value of vigorous team sports were related to increased team participation and physical activity, as well as reduced TV and computer in boys and girls. Value of moderate intensity household chores, was related to decreased team participation and increased TV in boys. Only organized team sport, not general physical activity, was related to reduced TV and computer. A better understanding of how people come to value different types of physical activity is important in the design of programs and communications to the public to help increase physical activity. Helping parents understand how they transfer the value of doing specific types of tasks to children will be an important strategy in behavior change. By placing high value on particular activities, like activity that involves vigorous physical effort, parents communicate to children that these are activities that are good and should be performed, creating family traditions and value systems that are likely sustained over generations.
Technical Abstract: This study examined parent–child attitudes on value of specific types and intensities of physical activity, which may explain gender differences in child activity, and evaluated physical activity as a mechanism to reduce time spent in sedentary behaviors. A community sample of 681 parents and 433 children (mean age 9.9 years) reported attitudes on importance of vigorous and moderate intensity team and individually performed sports/activities, as well as household chores. Separate structural models (LISREL 8.7) for girls and boys tested whether parental attitudes were related to child TV and computer via child attitudes, sport team participation, and physical activity, controlling for demographic factors. The main outcome measures included: child 7-day physical activity, sport teams, weekly TV, computer. Parent–child attitude congruence was more prevalent among boys, and attitudes varied by ethnicity, parent education, and number of children. Positive parent–child attitudes for vigorous team sports were related to increased team participation and physical activity, as well as reduced TV and computer in boys and girls. Value of moderate intensity household chores, such as cleaning house and doing laundry, was related to decreased team participation and increased TV in boys. Only organized team sports, not general physical activity, was related to reduced TV and computer. Results support parents' role in socializing children's achievement task values, affecting child activity by transferring specific attitudes. Value of vigorous intensity sports provided the most benefits to activity and reduction of sedentary behavior, while valuing household chores had unexpected negative effects.