Multivariable analysis of the association between fathers' and youths' physical activity in the United States

BMC Public Health. 2013 Nov 14;13(1):1075. 
Authors: Isgor Z, Powell LM, Wang Y.

Background: Although the benefits of physical activity have been well-established, a significant number of children and adolescents in the U.S. do not meet the recommended levels of daily physical activity. Parental influences such as parents' physical activity participation may play an important role in affecting youths' physical activity. Methods: This study used the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the associations between fathers' vigorous physical activity (VPA) and VPA participation (>0 day(s)/week) and frequency (days/week) of 887 youths aged 10 through 18 based on a nationally representative sample of families in the US. Logistic and negative binomial regression analyses were used to examine the association between past frequency (times/week) and an indicator of recommended (>=3 times/week) frequency of father's VPA and youth's VPA participation and youths' VPA frequency, respectively. We examined the sensitivity to the inclusion of various youth, family, mother's VPA, and contextual control measures. Analyses also were undertaken by gender. Results: Father's past VPA frequency was positively associated with both youths' VPA participation and with youths' VPA frequency for the full and female samples of youths, even after the inclusion of demographic, socio-economic, and local area characteristics. Father's past recommended VPA frequency was positively associated with youths' VPA participation in the full sample only and with youths' VPA frequency in the female sub-sample only. Simulation results showed that an increase in father's past weekly VPA frequency from zero to the minimum recommended level (three times per week) was associated with an increased predicted probability of youths' weekly VPA participation from approximately 67% to 74% for the full sample (61% to 73% for females and 74% to 77% for males). Conclusion: The results from this study suggest that environmental and/or family based interventions that increase fathers' VPA may help improve youths' VPA.

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