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


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.


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.


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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