Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2014) 13, 645 - 650

Research article
Parental Activity as Influence on Childrenˋs BMI Percentiles and Physical Activity
Nanette Erkelenz , Susanne Kobel, Sarah Kettner, Clemens Drenowatz, Jürgen M. Steinacker, and the Research Group "Join the Healthy Boat - Primary School"
Author Information
Ulm University Medical Centre, Devision of Sports and Rehabilitation Medicine, Ulm, Germany

Nanette Erkelenz
✉ Medical Centre, Devision of Sports and Rehabilitation Medicine, Ulm University, Frauensteige 6, Haus 58/33, 89075 Ulm, Germany
Publish Date
Received: 25-03-2013
Accepted: 06-05-2014
Published (online): 01-09-2014
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Parents play a crucial role in the development of their children’s lifestyle and health behaviour. This study aims to examine associations between parental physical activity (PA) and children’s BMI percentiles (BMIPCT), moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) as well as participation in organised sports. Height and body weight was measured in 1615 in German children (7.1 ± 0.6 years, 50.3% male) and converted to BMIPCT. Parental BMI was calculated based on self-reported height and body weight. Children’s MVPA and sports participation as well as parental PA were assessed via parental questionnaire. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), controlling for age and family income was used to examine the association between parental and children’s PA levels as well as BMIPCT. 39.7% of the parents classified themselves as physically active and 8.3% of children were classified as overweight or obese. Lower BMIPCT were observed with both parents being physically active (44.5 ± 26.3 vs. 50.2 ± 26.9 and 52.0 ± 28.4, respectively). There was no association between parental and children’s PA levels but children with at least one active parent displayed a higher participation in organised sports (102.0 ± 96.6 and 117.7 ± 123.6 vs. 73.7 ± 100.0, respectively). Children of active parents were less likely to be overweight and obese. The lack of association between subjectively assessed parental PA and child MVPA suggests that parental support for PA in children is more important than parents being a role model. More active parents, however, may be more likely to facilitate participation in organised sports. These results underline the importance of the inclusion of parents in health promotion and obesity prevention programmes in children.

Key words: Health and exercise, effects on body weight, health promotion

           Key Points
  • A higher prevalence of overweight or obese children was found with inactive parents.
  • Children’s BMI percentiles were lower if both parents were physically active compared to children whose parents were both inactive or only had one physically active parent.
  • Parental activity had no influence on daily time spent at MVPA and time spent in non-organised sports.
  • There was a significant association between parental physical activity and the number of minutes per week boys and girls participated in organised sports.
  • On average, children who had at least one physically active parent spent significantly more time participating in organised sports than children with inactive parents.
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