Monday, July 14, 2014

Parents and friends both matter for schoolchildren's physical activity and diet

The family, and parents in particular, are considered the most important influencers regarding children's energy-balance related behaviours (EBRBs, i.e. physical activity, sedentary and eating behaviours). When children become older and gain more behavioural autonomy regarding different behaviours, the parental influences may become less important and peer influences may gain importance. In a study just published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, we investigated simultaneous and interactive associations of family rules, parent and friend norms and parent and friend modelling with soft drink intake, TV viewing, daily breakfast consumption and sport participation among schoolchildren across Europe. We used the data from the ENERGY cross sectional study. Dr. Saskia te Velde is first author on this paper.
Children reported more unfavourable friend norms and modelling regarding soft drink intake and TV viewing, while they reported more favourable friend and parental norms and modelling for breakfast consumption and physical activity. Perceived friend and parental norms and modelling were significantly positively associated with soft drink intake, breakfast consumption, physical activity and TV time. Across the different behaviours, ten significant interactions between parental and friend influencing variables were found and suggested a weaker association of friend norms and modelling when parental rules were in place.
In conclusion: parental and friends norm and modelling are associated with schoolchildren's energy balance-related behaviours. Having family rules and  favourable parental modelling and norms seems to reduce the potential unfavourable influences of friends on EBRBs.