OBJECTIVE:

The goal of this study was to examine activity pattern associations between Hispanic parents and their preschool-aged children.

METHODS:

We examined baseline data collected as part of a randomized controlled trial. Self-defined Hispanic parents with children aged 3 to 5 years were randomly assigned to either a weekly healthy lifestyle group (intervention) or a monthly school-readiness group (control) for 3 months. There were no weight eligibility criteria. All participants were instructed to wear an accelerometer for up to 7 consecutive days to measure physical activity.

RESULTS:

Of the 106 dyads enrolled in the study, 80 children and 85 parents provided useable actigraphy data. Mean percentage of time spent in sedentary behaviors was 82.0% (SD: 10.4) for parents and 69.8% (SD: 18.5) for preschool-aged children. Percentage of awake time per day spent in sedentary behavior was strongly correlated for parents and children (r = 0.597; P < .001). Correlations between activity level were large (r = 0.895 and 0.739 for low and moderate activity levels, respectively), except for vigorous activity level, for which the parent-child correlation was nonsignificant (P = .64) because of a near-0 level of vigorous parental activity. Child's age (P = .81) and gender (P = .43) were nonsignificant predictors of child activity levels.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results suggest that parental activity levels are a powerful explanation of preschool-aged child activity levels, except for vigorous activity, which children do on their own without parental participation. Hispanic parents play a critical role in setting physical activity patterns in their children.

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