Determinants of Change in Physical Activity in Children 0-6 years of Age: A Systematic Review of Quantitative Literature.

Kathryn R. Hesketh, Claire O'Malley, Veena Mazarello Paes, Helen Moore, Carolyn D. Summerbell, Ken K. Ong, Rajalakshmi Lakshman, Esther M. F. van Sluijs

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Understanding the determinants of children’s health behaviours is important to develop successful behaviour-change interventions.

We aimed to synthesise the evidence around determinants (‘preceding predictors’) of change in physical activity (PA) in young children (0–6 years of age).

As part of a suite of reviews, prospective quantitative studies investigating change in physical activity in children aged 0–6 years were identified from eight databases (to October 2015): MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Web of Knowledge, British Nursing Index, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts, and Sociological Abstracts. Determinants and direction of association were extracted, described and synthesised according to the socio-ecological model (individual, interpersonal, organisational, community, policy).

Forty-four determinants, predominantly in the interpersonal and organisational domains, were reported across 44 papers (six prospective cohort, 38 interventional); 14 determinants were assessed in four or more papers. Parental monitoring showed a consistent positive association with change in PA; provider training was positively associated with change in children’s moderate-to-vigorous PA only. Five (sex, parental goal setting, social support, motor skill training and increased time for PA) showed no clear association. A further seven (child knowledge, parental knowledge, parental motivation, parenting skills, parental self-efficacy, curriculum materials and portable equipment) were consistently not associated with change in children’s PA. Maternal role-modelling was positively associated with change in PA in all three studies in which it was examined.

A range of studied determinants of change in young children’s PA were identified, but only parental monitoring was found to be consistently positively associated. More evidence dealing with community and policy domains from low-/middle-income countries and about lesser-explored modifiable family- and childcare-related determinants is required.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSports Medicine
Early online date17 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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