The Relationship between Activity Preference in Children and Parents

Student Author(s)

Mary Kelso

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown

Document Type


Event Date



Today, children seem to be considerably less physically active than previous generations and rising childhood obesity is presenting itself as a major problem (CDC, 2006). Leary et al. (2008) investigated the self-reported activity preferences of parents and the preferences reported by their preschool children and found a significant positive correlation between the two. The present study strives to establish a relationship between the activity preference in children and their parents for young elementary students. Two questionnaires were developed, one for parents’ self-evaluation and one for each parent’s evaluation of their children. The self-evaluation for parents included various sociodemographic items and 15 activity preference items, each presenting one sedentary and one physically active option. Sedentary activities included watching TV, reading, crafts/projects, and art. Active options included walking/jogging, riding bike, playing sports, and park/playground. The parents were asked to identify their most preferred activity in each pair. Child participants completed their activity preference measures during class time. The sedentary and active activities were nearly identical to those offered to parents but were presented using child-friendly options. Physically active choices were given a “1” and sedentary activities given a “0”. The scores of all preferred activities were totaled to establish a summed score, which was categorized based on an adaptation of Leary’s (2008) scale. A summed score of 0-5 was classified as Sedentary, a score of 6-9 was Neutral, and a score of 10-15 was Active. We expected that self-reported Active parents would have children who reported active preferences. Likewise, self-reported Sedentary parents would have children who reported sedentary preferences. Support of our hypothesis would suggest that parents could be targeted to influence healthy lifestyles for future generations.

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