Research Study Abstract

Active Commuting to School in Sedentary Children: The Role of the Parents

  • Presented on April 2014

Abstract: Active commuting to school (ACS) is an important source of physical activity for young people and may be helpful in fighting the obesity epidemic. However, children are subject to their parents restrictions and are not totally independent when choosing their active behaviors. The aim of this study is to examine the association between parents’ perceptions of the neighborhood environment (safety, facilities and transport) and sedentary children’s ACS. Participants were 269 adolescents (149 girls) with mean age of 11.6 (±0.8) years old from Porto, Portugal and their parents. Parental environmental perceptions and children ACS were accessed by questionnaire. Four groups were created based on sedentary time obtained with Actigraph accelerometer. Only 35% of the children actively commuted to school. Binary logistics regression revealed that, in the more sedentary group, children from parents with better perceptions of “Safe crossings for my child” (OR=1.16 CI: 1.08-9.43) and “Children’s Assault safety” (OR=1.33 CI: 1.16-12.32) and worse perception of traffic slowing devices (OR=1.78 CI: 0.05-0.55) have higher odds of ACS than children whose parents recognize less safety. In the less sedentary group, higher odds of ACS were found in children whose parents were available to take them to school by car/walking (OR=1.57 CI: 1.62-14.34) and feel less convenience in driving their children to school (OR=1.04 CI: 0.17-0.75). Parent’s safety perceptions may be influencing sedentary children’s ACS. Safer crossings with lights and well-designed crossing lanes as well as interventions aiming assault safety may play an important role improving ACS and raising PA levels in sedentary children.