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Keywords:

  • children;
  • family environment;
  • physical activity;
  • health behaviours

Abstract

Objective: To characterise the family activity environment in a questionnaire format, assess the questionnaire's reliability and describe its predictive ability by examining the relationships between the family activity environment and children's health behaviours – physical activity, screen time and fruit and vegetable intake.

Method: This paper describes the creation of a tool, based on previously validated scales, adapted from the food domain. Data are from 106 children and their parents (Adelaide, South Australia). Factor analysis was used to characterise factors within the family activity environment. Pearson-Product Moment correlations between the family environment and child outcomes, controlling for demographic variation, were examined.

Results: Three factors described the family activity environment – parental activity involvement, opportunity for role modelling and parental support for physical activity – and explained 37.6% of the variance. Controlling for demographic factors, the scale was significantly correlated with children's health behaviour – physical activity (r=0.27), screen time (r=-0.24) and fruit and vegetable intake (r=0.34).

Conclusions: The family activity environment questionnaire shows high internal consistency and moderate predictive ability. This study has built on previous research by taking a more comprehensive approach to measuring the family activity environment.

Implications: This research suggests the family activity environment should be considered in family-based health promotion interventions.