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Children's television viewing and objectively measured physical activity: associations with family circumstances

journal contribution
posted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by Kylie HeskethKylie Hesketh, David CrawfordDavid Crawford, Jo SalmonJo Salmon
Background: The contribution of family circumstance to physical activity and television viewing has not been widely investigated in pre-adolescents, and available information is inconsistent. This study examines whether television viewing and objectively measured physical activity vary by different indicators of family circumstance.
Methods: Data from the 2001 Children's Leisure Activity Study and the 2002/3 Health, Eating and Play Study, involving Australian children in Grades Prep (mean age 6y) and 5–6 (mean age 11y), were combined. Children wore accelerometers for six consecutive 24 hour periods. Average min/day in low-intensity activity (1.0–1.9 METs) and moderate-to-vigorous-intensity activity (≥3 METs) were calculated. Parents reported children's television viewing and family circumstance. Linear regression analyses were conducted separately for young girls, young boys, older girls and older boys. Results: Complete data were available for 2458 children. Parental education and, to a lesser extent, employment level were inversely associated with television viewing. Children in single-parent families, those whose fathers were not in paid employment, and those without siblings tended to spend more time in low-intensity activity than their peers. Children with siblings spent more time in moderate-to-vigorous-intensity activity; associations were stronger for girls. Maternal education was positively associated with moderate-to-vigorous-intensity activity for younger children. Maternal employment was positively associated with moderate-to-vigorous-intensity activity for older children. Multivariable models did not demonstrate a cumulative explanatory effect.
  Individual measures of family circumstance were differentially associated with television, low-intensity activity and moderate-to-vigorous-intensity activity and associations were often not consistent across age-by-gender groups. Interventions may need to be tailored accordingly.



International journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity






1 - 10


BioMed Central


London, England






This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2006, Hesketh et al