Young children in urban areas: Links among neighborhood characteristics, weight status, outdoor play, and television watching

Department of Sociology, Rice University, 6100 Main St., MS-28, Houston, TX 77005, USA.
Social Science [?] Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.89). 03/2011; 72(5):668-76. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.12.015
Source: PubMed


Although research consistently demonstrates a link between residential context and physical activity for adults and adolescents, less is known about young children's physical activity. Using data from the U.S. Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=1822, 51% male), we explored whether outdoor play and television watching were associated with children's body mass indexes (BMIs) at age five using OLS regression models, controlling for a wide array of potential confounders, including maternal BMI. We also tested whether subjective and objective neighborhood measures - socioeconomic status (from U.S. Census tract data), type of dwelling, perceived collective efficacy, and interviewer-assessed physical disorder of the immediate environment outside the home - were associated with children's activities, using negative binomial regression models. Overall, 19% of the sample were overweight (between the 85th and 95th percentiles), and 16% were obese (≥ 95th percentile). Hours of outdoor play were negatively associated with BMI, and hours of television were positively associated with BMI. Moreover, a ratio of outdoor play to television time was a significant predictor of BMI. Higher maternal perceptions of neighborhood collective efficacy were associated with more hours of outdoor play, fewer hours of television viewing, and more trips to a park or playground. In addition, we found that neighborhood physical disorder was associated with both more outdoor play and more television watching. Finally, contrary to expectations, we found that children living in public housing had significantly more hours of outdoor play and watched more television, than other children. We hypothesize that poorer children may have more unstructured time, which they fill with television time but also with outdoor play time; and that children in public housing may be likely to have access to play areas on the grounds of their housing facilities.

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    • "Systems models of children's independent mobility Systems models are flexible frameworks that can be applied to diverse settings (Simmons et al. 2009) and can be reviewed and refined in light of the emerging evidence base. For example, emerging literature has shown associations between children's independent mobility and access to local destinations (Villanueva et al. 2012), area-level disadvantage (McCormack et al. 2011; Tolbert Kimbro, Brooks-Gunn, and McLanahan 2011), and access to electronic devices (McCormack et al. 2011). In addition, recent qualitative work revealed that other factors contribute to parents' decisions regarding their child's independent mobility; these have not been captured in earlier models. "
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    ABSTRACT: Substantial changes to the built environment, urbanisation patterns, and societal norms have contributed to limiting children's opportunities for being independently mobile. Several linear causal pathway models have been developed to understand the influences on children's independent mobility; however feedback loops between and within the various levels of influence cannot be modelled using such an approach. The purpose of this paper is to refine the interrelationships of factors related to children's independent mobility, taking into account earlier models, broader contextual factors, recent children's geographies literature, and feedback loops. System model components were informed by attributes known to influence children's independent mobility, related qualitative findings, and the development of a framework that could lend itself to multilevel modelling approaches. This system models may provide a useful structure for identifying how best to develop and monitor interventions to halt the declining rates of children's independent mobility.
    Children s Geographies 03/2015; DOI:10.1080/14733285.2015.1021240 · 1.16 Impact Factor
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    • "Another set of findings congruent with previous research regards neighbours’ practices related to personal involvement and general informal supervision of the neighbourhood which were brought up by parents in the qualitative component of the study (i.e., “supervise the neighbourhood children at all times”, “take turns supervising the neighbourhood children” and “know and communicate with one another”). Specifically, previous studies have shown that such behaviours contribute to more positive parental perceptions of environmental safety and, thus, influence parental choices of places where children engage in PA [[40],[41]]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Parents¿ perceived informal social control, defined as the informal ways residents intervene to create a safe and orderly neighbourhood environment, may influence young children¿s physical activity (PA) in the neighbourhood. This study aimed to develop and test the reliability of a scale of PA-related informal social control relevant to Chinese parents/caregivers of pre-schoolers (children aged 3 to 5 years) living in Hong Kong.Methods Nominal Group Technique (NGT), a structured, multi-step brainstorming technique, was conducted with two groups of caregivers (mainly parents; n¿=¿11) of Hong Kong pre-schoolers in June 2011. Items collected in the NGT sessions and those generated by a panel of experts were used to compile a list of items (n¿=¿22) for a preliminary version of a questionnaire of informal social control. The newly-developed scale was tested with 20 Chinese-speaking parents/caregivers using cognitive interviews (August 2011). The modified scale, including all 22 original items of which a few were slightly reworded, was subsequently administered on two occasions, a week apart, to 61 Chinese parents/caregivers of Hong Kong pre-schoolers in early 2012. The test-retest reliability and internal consistency of the items and scale were examined using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC), paired t-tests, relative percentages of shifts in responses to items, and Cronbach¿s ¿ coefficient.ResultsThirteen items generated by parents/caregivers and nine items generated by the panel of experts (total 22 items) were included in a first working version of the scale and classified into three subscales: ¿Personal involvement and general informal supervision¿, ¿Civic engagement for the creation of a better neighbourhood environment¿ and ¿Educating and assisting neighbourhood children¿. Twenty out of 22 items showed moderate to excellent test-test reliability (ICC range: 0.40-0.81). All three subscales of informal social control showed acceptable levels of internal consistency (Cronbach ¿ >0.70).ConclusionsA reliable scale examining PA-related informal social control relevant to Chinese parents/caregivers of pre-schoolers living in Hong Kong was developed. Further studies should examine the factorial validity of the scale, its associations with Chinese children¿s PA and its appropriateness for other populations of parents of young children.
    International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 07/2014; 11(1):87. DOI:10.1186/s12966-014-0087-y · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    • "All this attention has one main goal: to ensure increases in children's overall levels of physical activity. The new importance attributed play within public health can thus be viewed as primarily directed towards efforts aimed at reducing childhood obesity (Moody et al., 2004; Lumeng et al., 2006; Veitch et al., 2006, 2010; Davis, 2007; de Vries et al., 2007; Bringolf-Isler et al., 2010; Floyd et al., 2011; Kimbro et al., 2011 "
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    ABSTRACT: Concerns over dwindling play opportunities for children have recently become a preoccupation for health promotion in western industrialized countries. The emerging discussions of play seem to be shaped by the urgency to address the children's obesity epidemic and by societal concerns around risk. Accordingly, the promotion of play from within the field appears to have adopted the following principles: (i) particular forms of play are critical for increasing children's levels of physical activity; and (ii) play should be limited to activities that are not risky. In this article, we argue that these emerging principles may begin to re-shape children's play: play is predominantly instrumentalized as a means to promote children's physical health, which may result in a reduction of possibilities for children to play freely and a restriction of the kinds of play designated as appropriate for physical health. We argue that within this context some of the social and emotional elements of health and well-being that children gain through diverse forms of playing are neglected. This has implications for health promotion because it suggests a narrowing of the conception of health that was originally advocated for within the field. Additionally, this reveals a curious paradox; despite the urgency to promote physical activity through play, this position may limit the range of opportunities for children to freely engage in play, in effect reducing their activity levels. We propose an example that promotes play for children and better aligns with the conception of health as outlined in the Ottawa Charter. © 2012 © The Author (2012). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: [email protected] /* */
    Health Promotion International 08/2012; 29(1). DOI:10.1093/heapro/das042 · 1.94 Impact Factor
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