Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Parental support is important for children's participation in sport activities across Europe

Sport participation makes an important contribution to children's overall physical activity. Understanding influences on sports participation is important and the family environment is considered key, however few studies have explored the mechanisms by which the family environment, parents in particular, influences children's sport participation. The purpose of our study just published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, was to explore associations between factors in the family environment with schoolchildren's sports participation. Additionally we studied if the children's attitudes, perceived behavioural control, health belief and enjoyment related to sports mediated these associations. Dr. Anna Timperio was first author of this paper, which is yet another product of the cross European Energy project.
More than 7000 children aged 10--12 and one of their parents (6000)  from 175 schools in seven European countries participated. Availability of sport equipment in the home (OR=1.16), financial, logistic and emotional support of the parents for the children to engage in sports, and parental modeling  were all positively associated with the children's participation for more than 30mins/wk is sport activities. Attitude, beliefs, perceived behavioural control and enjoyment partly mediated these associations. These results suggest that parental support both directly and indirectly -i.e. by helping to improve the children's attitudes, feelings of control and enjoyment - promotes sport participation in the children.