Exploring the mediating effect of parenting practices on the relationship between the neighbourhood environment and child physical activity

The neighbourhood environment has been found to affect the levels of physical activity among children. We are investigating the mediating effect of parenting practices on this relationship.

For example, some studies have found that children living in neighbourhoods that are more walkable or have more green space were more likely to be physically active. This may be related to parenting practices. For example, parents may restrict their children from playing outdoors if they feel that their neighbourhood is unsafe but may encourage outdoor play if they live near a park.

This study will address this gap by using survey data collected from two sample populations. First, data collected from a web-based survey of 500 parents across Canada and the USA will be used to describe the relationship between the neighbourhood environment (e.g. safety, crime, walkability) and physical activity parenting practices.

Second, one child from each of 88 living in Metro Vancouver will be provided with an accelerometer to record their physical activity patterns. Their parents will complete a questionnaire measuring their perception of the environment and the parenting practices they employ.

The goal of the project is to better understand how the environment can influence parenting practices, enabling recommendations on designing neighbourhoods to allow children to be more physically active.