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The association between maternal-child physical activity levels at the transition to formal schooling: cross-sectional and prospective data from the Southampton Women's Survey.

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Brage, Soren 
Cooper, Cyrus 
Godfrey, Keith M 
Harvey, Nicholas C 


BACKGROUND: Physical activity decreases through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood: parents of young children are particularly inactive, potentially negatively impacting their children's activity levels. This study aimed to determine the association between objectively measured maternal and 6-year-old children's physical activity; explore how this association differed by demographic and temporal factors; and identify change during the transition to school (from age 4-6). METHODS: Data were from the UK Southampton Women's Survey. Physical activity of 530 6-year-olds and their mothers was measured concurrently using accelerometry for ≤7 days. Cross-sectionally, two-level mixed-effects linear regression was used to model the association between maternal-child daily activity behaviour at age 6 [minutes sedentary (SED); in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA)]. Interactions with demographic factors and time of the week were tested; how the association differed across the day was also explored. Change in the association between maternal-child physical activity (from age 4-6) was assessed in a subset (n = 170) [outcomes: SED, MVPA and light physical activity (LPA)]. RESULTS: Mother-child daily activity levels were positively associated (SED: β = 0.23 [0.20, 0.26] minutes/day; MVPA: 0.53 [0.43, 0.64] minutes/day). The association was stronger at weekends (vs. weekdays) (interaction term: SED: βi = 0.07 [0.02, 0.12]; MVPA: 0.44 [0.24, 0.64]). For SED, the association was stronger for those children with older siblings (vs. none); for MVPA, a stronger association was observed for those who had both younger and older siblings (vs. none) and a weaker relationship existed in spring compared to winter. Longitudinally, the association between mother-child activity levels did not change for SED and LPA. At age 6 (vs. age 4) the association between mother-child MVPA was weaker across the whole day (βi: - 0.16 [- 0.31, - 0.01]), but remained similar at both ages between 3 and 11 pm. CONCLUSIONS: More active mothers have more active 6-year-olds; this association was similar for boys and girls but differed by time of week, season and by age of siblings at home. Longitudinally, the association weakened for MVPA between 4 and 6 years, likely reflecting the differing activities children engage in during school hours and increased independence. Family-based physical activity remains an important element of children's activity behaviour regardless of age. This could be exploited in interventions to increase physical activity within families.



Children, Mothers, Physical activity, Prospective, Sedentary, Accelerometry, Child, Child Behavior, Child, Preschool, Cross-Sectional Studies, Exercise, Female, Fitness Trackers, Humans, Mother-Child Relations, Mothers, Prospective Studies, Schools, Students

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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Wellcome Trust (087636/Z/08/Z)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/G007462/1)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/7)
Medical Research Council (MR/K023187/1)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/3)
European Commission (289346)
Wellcome Trust (107337/A/15/Z)
This work was conducted by the Medical Research Council [Unit Programme number MC_UU_12015/3 and MC_UU_12015/7] and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged (CEDAR grant numbers: ES/G007462/1; 087636/Z/08/Z; MR/K023187/1). The work of CC, KMG, NCH, HMI and SMR was supported by funding from the Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, the Arthritis Research UK, National Osteoporosis Society, International Osteoporosis Foundation, Cohen Trust, the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) EarlyNutrition project under grant agreement 289346, NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, and National Institute of Health Research Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, Oxford. KH is funded by the Wellcome Trust (107337/Z/15/Z).