The team found that children in Hispanic families are more likely to be sedentary and are more vulnerable to becoming overweight or obese than non-Hispanic white children.
Zhen Cong, Ph.D., an assistant professor of human development and family studies at Texas Tech University, explained:
"We found that family support is very important for reducing children's sedentary behaviors."
Sedentary behaviors primarily included video-game playing, watching TV and computer use, and were referred to as "screen time."
The researchers enrolled 418 children aged 5 to 9 years old to participate in the study with their parents. Participants received follow-up for two years. The parents and children took part in a program entitled Transformacion Para Salud (Change for Health). The program included education on nutrition, family participation and encouragement of physical activities.
The researchers surveyed the parents in order to determine how much they encouraged and supported their children to engage in active living. They found that children with stronger parental support spent less time engaged in sedentary behaviors.
In addition the team found that girls started out with less sedentary behaviors and that boys were more likely to reduce their sedentary behaviors if their parents provided encouragement and support.
"Our findings suggest that is is important to test comprehensive, multidimensional, and culturally sensitive interventions suited to the developmental stages of childhood. The bottom line is that it is important to involve families in intervention programs to effectively reduce children's sedentary behaviors."
Lloyd N. Werk, M.D., MPH, chief of the general pediatrics division at Nemours Children's Hospital explained:
"Sedentary behaviors, such as extended screen time, are significant risk factors for childhood obesity. This study highlights the impact we can have on engaging the whole family to support children in becoming more active and less sedentary."
According to the researchers, the benefits in promoting healthier lifestyle choices faded after several months. As a result, further research is required in order to find ways to secure and build on parental support for active living.
Written By Grace Rattue