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1.  Family ecological predictors of physical activity parenting in low income families 
Physical activity (PA) parenting, or strategies parents use to promote PA in children, has been associated with increased PA in children of all ages, including preschool-aged children. However, little is known about the circumstances under which parents adopt such behaviors. This study examined family ecological factors associated with PA parenting. Low-income parents (N = 145) of preschool-aged children (aged 2 to 5 years) were recruited from five Head Start centers in upstate New York. Guided by the Family Ecological Model (FEM), parents completed surveys assessing PA parenting and relevant family and community factors. Hierarchical regression analysis identified independent predictors of PA parenting. Parent depressive symptoms, life pressures that interfere with PA and perceived empowerment to access PA resources were associated with PA parenting. Community factors, including neighborhood play safety and social capital, were not independently associated with PA parenting in the multivariate model. Together, family ecological factors accounted for a large proportion of the variance in PA parenting (R2 = .37). Findings highlight the need to look beyond cognitive predictors of PA parenting in low-income families and to examine the impact of their broader life circumstances including indicators of stress.
doi:10.1080/08964289.2013.802215
PMCID: PMC4000568  PMID: 24236806
parenting; child; physical activity; family ecology
2.  Mental Health and Family Functioning as Determinants of A Sedentary Lifestyle among Low-Income Women with Young Children 
Women & health  2012;52(6):606-619.
This cross-sectional study examined mental health and family environmental factors related to a sedentary lifestyle, including lack of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) and high levels of television viewing, among low-income mothers/female guardians of preschool-aged children. A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 131 mothers in 2010. Primary outcome measures included television viewing time (minutes/day) and LTPA (< 150 versus ≥150 minutes per week). Independent variables included depressive symptoms, perceived stress and family functioning. Demographic factors (age, marriage, work status, education, number of children in the household and race/ethnicity) were examined as potential covariates. Participating women watched TV on average 186.1 minutes/day (i.e., >3 hours). Additionally, 36% of women engaged in less than the recommended 150-minute LTPA per week. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that greater depressive symptoms (B = 76.4, p<.01) and lower family functioning (B = 33.0, p < .05) were independently related to greater television viewing when controlling for other variables. No independent factors were identified for lack of LTPA when controlling for other covariates. Findings suggest that health promotion efforts to promote an active lifestyle among low-income women with young children should address mental health and family functioning factors, especially depressive symptoms.
doi:10.1080/03630242.2012.705243
PMCID: PMC3459328  PMID: 22860706
3.  A childhood obesity intervention developed by families for families: results from a pilot study 
Background
Ineffective family interventions for the prevention of childhood obesity have, in part, been attributed to the challenges of reaching and engaging parents. With a particular focus on parent engagement, this study utilized community-based participatory research to develop and pilot test a family-centered intervention for low-income families with preschool-aged children enrolled in Head Start.
Methods
During year 1 (2009–2010), parents played an active and equal role with the research team in planning and conducting a community assessment and using the results to design a family-centered childhood obesity intervention. During year 2 (2010–2011), parents played a leading role in implementing the intervention and worked with the research team to evaluate its results using a pre-post cohort design. Intervention components included: (1) revisions to letters sent home to families reporting child body mass index (BMI); (2) a communication campaign to raise parents’ awareness of their child’s weight status; (3) the integration of nutrition counseling into Head Start family engagement activities; and (4) a 6-week parent-led program to strengthen parents’ communication skills, conflict resolution, resource-related empowerment for healthy lifestyles, social networks, and media literacy. A total of 423 children ages 2–5 years, from five Head Start centers in upstate New York, and their families were exposed to the intervention and 154 families participated in its evaluation. Child outcome measures included BMI z-score, accelerometer-assessed physical activity, and dietary intake assessed using 24-hour recall. Parent outcomes included food-, physical activity- and media-related parenting practices and attitudes.
Results
Compared with pre intervention, children at post intervention exhibited significant improvements in their rate of obesity, light physical activity, daily TV viewing, and dietary intake (energy and macronutrient intake). Trends were observed for BMI z-score, sedentary activity and moderate activity. Parents at post intervention reported significantly greater self-efficacy to promote healthy eating in children and increased support for children’s physical activity. Dose effects were observed for most outcomes.
Conclusions
Empowering parents to play an equal role in intervention design and implementation is a promising approach to family-centered obesity prevention and merits further testing in a larger trial with a rigorous research design.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-3
PMCID: PMC3547740  PMID: 23289970
Community-based participatory research; CBPR; Action research; Head Start; Diet; Physical activity; Family intervention
4.  Engaging Low-Income Parents in Childhood Obesity Prevention from Start to Finish: A Case Study 
Journal of Community Health  2012;38(1):1-11.
Prevention of childhood obesity is a national priority. Parents influence young children’s healthy lifestyles, so it is paradoxical that obesity interventions focus primarily on children. Evidence and theory suggest that including parents in interventions offers promise for effective childhood obesity prevention. This case study engaged parents’ as co-researchers in the design, implementation and evaluation of an intervention for low-income families with a child enrolled in Head Start. Parent engagement mechanisms include: (1) targeted partnership development (2) operationalizing a Community Advisory Board (CAB) that was the key decision making body; (3) a majority of CAB members were parents who were positioned as experts, and (4) addressing structural barriers to parent participation. Lessons learned are provided for future research, and practice.
doi:10.1007/s10900-012-9573-9
PMCID: PMC3547242  PMID: 22714670
Community based participatory research; Childhood obesity; Parent engagement; Health promotion
5.  Measuring Parental Support for Children’s Physical Activity in White and African American Parents: The Activity Support Scale for Multiple Groups (ACTS-MG) 
Preventive medicine  2010;52(1):39-43.
Objectives
The Activity Support Scale (ACTS) was expanded for use with African American families. Its factorial invariance and internal reliability were examined for non-Hispanic white and African American parents.
Methods
The ACTS was modified to improve its applicability to African American families based on information from five focus groups with 27 African American parents of elementary school-aged children. Between 2006 and 2008, the revised scale was administered to 119 African American and 117 non-Hispanic white parents in northeastern NY and Alabama. Its factorial invariance across race/ethnicity and internal consistency were examined.
Results
Factor analysis of the revised scale, the Activity Support Scale for Multiple Groups (ACTS-MG), identified four parenting factors in white and African American parents including logistic support, modeling, use of community resources to promote physical activity (PA), and restriction of sedentary behaviors. Results supported the scale’s internal reliability and factorial invariance across race/ethnicity.
Conclusion
The ACTS-MG is appropriate for use with non-Hispanic white and African American families and will enable the extension of current research with white families to the examination of strategies supporting PA in African American families. Additional psychometric work with the ACTS-MG is encouraged.
doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.11.008
PMCID: PMC3022380  PMID: 21111755
Children; Youth; Parenting; Social Support; Scale Development
6.  Feasibility of Increasing Childhood Outdoor Play and Decreasing Television Viewing Through a Family-Based Intervention in WIC, New York State, 2007-2008 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2011;8(3):A54.
Introduction
Active Families is a program developed to increase outdoor play and decrease television viewing among preschool-aged children enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Our objective was to assess its feasibility and efficacy.
Methods
We implemented Active Families in a large WIC clinic in New York State for 1 year. To this end, we incorporated into WIC nutrition counseling sessions a community resource guide with maps showing recreational venues. Outcome measures were children's television viewing and time playing outdoors and parents' behaviors (television viewing, physical activity), self-efficacy to influence children's behaviors, and parenting practices specific to television viewing. We used a nonpaired pretest and posttest design to evaluate the intervention, drawing on comparison data from 3 matched WIC agencies.
Results
Compared with the children at baseline, the children at follow-up were more likely to watch television less than 2 hours per day and play outdoors for at least 60 minutes per day. Additionally, parents reported higher self-efficacy to limit children's television viewing and were more likely to meet physical activity recommendations and watch television less than 2 hours per day.
Conclusion
Results suggest that it is feasible to foster increased outdoor play and reduced television viewing among WIC-enrolled children by incorporating a community resource guide into WIC nutrition counseling sessions. Future research should test the intervention with a stronger evaluation design in multiple settings, with more diverse WIC populations, and by using more objective outcome measures of child behaviors.
PMCID: PMC3103559  PMID: 21477494
7.  Parenting styles, parenting practices, and physical activity in 10- to 11-year olds 
Preventive Medicine  2011;52(1-3):44-47.
Objective
The objective of this study was to determine whether parenting styles and practices are associated with children's physical activity.
Methods
Cross-sectional survey of seven hundred ninety-two 10- to 11-year-old UK children in Bristol (UK) in 2008–2009 was conducted. Accelerometer-assessed physical activity and mean minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (mean MVPA) and mean counts per minute (mean CPM) were obtained. Maternal parenting style and physical activity parenting practices were self-reported.
Results
In regression analyses, permissive parenting was associated with higher mean MVPA among girls (+ 6.0 min/day, p < 0.001) and greater mean CPM (+ 98.9 accelerometer counts/min, p = 0.014) among boys when compared to children with authoritative parents. Maternal logistic support was associated with mean CPM for girls (+ 36.2 counts/min, p = 0.001), while paternal logistic support was associated with boys' mean MVPA (+ 4.0 min/day, p = 0.049) and mean CPM (+ 55.7 counts/min, p = 0.014).
Conclusions
Maternal permissive parenting was associated with higher levels of physical activity than authoritative parenting, but associations differed by child gender and type of physical activity. Maternal logistic support was associated with girls' physical activity, while paternal logistic support was associated with boys' physical activity. Health professionals could encourage parents to increase logistic support for their children's physical activity.
doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.11.001
PMCID: PMC3025352  PMID: 21070805
Parenting; Physical activity; Children; Adolescents; Parenting style; Public health; Prevention
8.  Children’s Active Commuting to School: Current Knowledge and Future Directions 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2008;5(3):A100.
Introduction
Driven largely by international declines in rates of walking and bicycling to school and the noted health benefits of physical activity for children, research on children's active commuting to school has expanded rapidly during the past 5 years. We summarize research on predictors and health consequences of active commuting to school and outline and evaluate programs specific to children's walking and bicycling to school.
Methods
Literature on children's active commuting to school published before June 2007 was compiled by searching PubMed, PsycINFO, and the National Transportation Library databases; conducting Internet searches on program-based activities; and reviewing relevant transportation journals published during the last 4 years.
Results
Children who walk or bicycle to school have higher daily levels of physical activity and better cardiovascular fitness than do children who do not actively commute to school. A wide range of predictors of children's active commuting behaviors was identified, including demographic factors, individual and family factors, school factors (including the immediate area surrounding schools), and social and physical environmental factors. Safe Routes to School and the Walking School Bus are 2 public health efforts that promote walking and bicycling to school. Although evaluations of these programs are limited, evidence exists that these activities are viewed positively by key stakeholders and have positive effects on children's active commuting to school.
Conclusion
Future efforts to promote walking and bicycling to school will be facilitated by building on current research, combining the strengths of scientific rigor with the predesign and postdesign provided by intervention activities, and disseminating results broadly and rapidly.
PMCID: PMC2483568  PMID: 18558018

Results 1-8 (8)