Effects of a Preschool Intervention Using Nature-based Activities on Children’s Self – Efficacy and Preferences for Outdoor Activity: How Activity Preferences Relates to Childhood Body Mass Index

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, Hope College
Dr. Paulette Chaponniere, Hope College
Professor Vicki Voskuil, Hope College

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Childhood obesity has become a growing problem in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, obesity rates for children ages 6-11 have increased. This problem may lead to other health complications that could threaten the overall quality of life of young individuals. The major concern of this epidemic is what can be done to promote better lifestyle habits. This controlled study (N=155) examined preschool aged children (ages 3-5) and the relationship between activity preference (outdoor vs. indoor) and Body Mass Index (BMI). The comparison is designed to determine whether preference for indoor or outdoor activity correlates with Body Mass Index. The body mass index will be reported as normal, overweight, or obese by percentiles for age. Pender’s (1987) Health Promotion Model provided the framework for this study. Data was collected at preschools in the Holland/Zeeland, Michigan area by measuring height, and weight of children, as well as administering a modified version of Janie Leary’s (2008) Activity Preference instrument and adapted by Trent-Brown et al. (2010). Statistical analysis included multivariate analysis of variance and bi-variate correlational analysis. Results showed significant relationships between increased activity preference and height (p=.029), as well as trending for weight (p=.054). Other findings that showed trends were that between women and increased BMI (p=.062). Limitations of the study include language barriers, regional specificity due to examining a small geographical area, and child understanding of the testing procedures. Results show that increased physical activity should be encouraged in smaller children as well as young girls.

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