Methods Homes of 280 preschool children were visited and information obtained gs kids preschool games direct observation and parent interview regarding physical and nutritional characteristics of the home environment. Children’s physical activity, sedentary behaviour and dietary patterns were measured using standardised parent-report questionnaires.
Conclusion Physical attributes of the home environment and parental behaviours are associated with preschool children’s physical activity, sedentary behaviour and dietary patterns. Many of these variables are modifiable and could be targeted in childhood obesity prevention and management. The childhood obesity epidemic appears secondary to changes in modern society resulting in increased availability of energy dense foods and reduced opportunities for physical activity . There is growing evidence that many young children are consuming a diet inconsistent with recommendations and in addition, have inadequate levels of physical activity. Australian physical activity guidelines recommend children spend a minimum of 60 minutes per day in moderate to vigorous physical activity and conversely spend a maximum of 120 minutes per day engaged in small screen entertainment . Characteristics of such environments are hypothesised to be direct determinants of children’s physical activity and dietary patterns. Relationships between the environment and children’s physical activity have been summarised in a recent systematic review .
Evidence supports positive relationships between greater numbers of televisions in the home and televisions in children’s bedrooms, and greater amounts of time spent in sedentary activity . While Birch and colleagues have comprehensively investigated the role of parental child-feeding practices on dietary intake and thus energy balance of very young children, other aspects of the family food environment have not been explored . In summary, previous research has predominantly focused on older children and most studies have assessed only one or two aspects of the home environment at any one time. The latter is problematic because conceptually it is possible that parents balance or compensate one aspect of the home environment with others. Data Collection Data were collected by five research interviewers who individually visited families in their homes after arranging a suitable time for the visit.
All interviewers were trained by undertaking a site visit to a family not involved in the study to review the assessment procedure in detail. Measures The Physical and Nutritional Home Environment Inventory. Items were included which in previous studies were associated with children’s physical activity levels, sedentary behaviour, dietary patterns or body mass index or had potential for modification . The Outdoor Playtime and Small Screen Entertainment Checklist This brief twelve item questionnaire was based on the Outdoor Playtime Checklist developed by Burdette et al. AGHE known to be areas for improvement based on child dietary intake data from the 1995 National Nutrition Survey .