The association between parent and child variables and physical activity and sedentary behaviors in Puerto Rican children
Muñoz, Mario A.
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Studies with diverse populations including Caucasians, African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos have contributed important information about factors that may contribute to childhood obesity. However, the studies on Latino children have not examined how specific child and parent factors may be related to physical activity (PA) or sedentary behaviors (SB). Research investigations into these correlates or possible determinants of PA and SB in Latino children have only included children from Mexican American backgrounds. This dissertation consists of two studies designed to address the gaps in knowledge about these factors and their interaction with PA and SB in a specific group of Latino children. Data were obtained by direct evaluation of 75 children and their parents living on the Island of Puerto Rico. Objective measures, via accelerometry, were used to asses PA and SB, and questionnaires were used to obtain parental perceptions and beliefs about PA and SB. Child’s body composition was measured and used as a fitness component, along with a motor proficiency battery. Study 1 examined the relation between children’s fitness levels and level of motor skills, parental beliefs and perceptions of health status and children’s PA and SB. Results showed that time spent in SB and moderate to vigorous intensity PA (MVPA) was associated with parents’ intentions of reducing TV time and their perception of their child’s body weight. Study 2 undertook a more specific analysis of the mechanism(s) of these associations, specifically attempting to understand the possible moderation effect of certain constructs on the association between predictors of PA and SB. Results indicated that the strength of age as a predictor of MVPA and SB levels of Latino children may be moderated by the parent’s perception of influence, which in itself may be influenced by the parent’s level of education. Parental perceptions and intentions are modifiable factors, which suggests that working with the family is an important area to explore in future interventions to reduce obesity risk in this population.