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Keywords:

  • accelerometer;
  • social ecological models;
  • sedentary behavior;
  • computer use;
  • electronic games

Abstract

Objective: This study examined associations between the family environment and children's television (TV) viewing and likelihood of being low-active.

Research Methods and Procedures: In 2001, children were recruited from 19 primary schools in Melbourne, Australia. Parents completed a questionnaire about their child's TV viewing and the family environment. Children also completed a questionnaire and wore an accelerometer for 8 days. Movement counts were used to identify low-active children (lowest quartile). Data were analyzed in May 2004.

Results: The sample consisted of 878 children (mean age = 11.5 ± 0.6 yrs). Multiple logistic regression revealed that socioeconomic status [adjusted odds ratios (AOR) = 0.4 boys], frequency families watched TV together (AOR = 2.0 boys), mothers’ (AOR = 1.8 boys; AOR = 2.5 girls) and fathers’ (AOR = 2.6 boys; AOR = 2.8 girls) TV viewing, and rules prohibiting TV during mealtimes (AOR = 0.6 boys; AOR = 0.6 girls) related to children watching TV ≥2 h/d. Variables associated with low-level physical activity included self-reported enjoyment of Internet use (AOR = 1.7 boys) and preference for watching TV (AOR = 2.3 girls), perception that mother uses computer a lot (AOR = 1.9 boys) and likes using the computer (AOR = 0.6 girls), fathers’ reported computer/electronic games use (AOR = 1.7 girls), frequency families used computer together (AOR = 0.4 girls), rules that TV viewing must be supervised (AOR = 1.9 boys; AOR = 0.6 girls), and having pay TV (AOR = 0.6 boys) and electronic games at home (AOR = 2.6 boys).

Discussion: These findings suggest that the relationships between the family environment and TV viewing and low-level activity are complex and that these behaviors are distinct.