Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Health and Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Jessica Meendering


Preschool-age children have the potential to be influenced by their physical home environment and their parents’ physical activity (PA) practices more than older children as preschool-age children are more reliant on parents for PA opportunities. Previous research with this focus has relied predominantly on various subjective assessments of child activity, often resulting in overestimation of PA and underestimation of sedentary time (ST). Collectively, this dissertation project explored the associations among home environment factors, parent PA practices, parent satisfaction of children’s body size and children’s PA and ST by utilizing objective measures of activity and the full range of PA intensities in a cross-sectional sample of preschool-age children. Chapter 2 of this dissertation explored the relationships among home environment factors and child PA and ST. Parent role modeling PA and employing policies to support PA and monitor media were significantly associated with child activity. Specific parent PA practices have been shown to be significantly related to PA and ST in older children and adolescents. In Chapter 3, associations among parent PA practices and PA and ST in preschool-age children were explored. Parent use of community resources and restricting sedentary activity, especially video game use, were found to be significantly associated with preschool-age child activity. Previous research has reported body size satisfaction influences PA engagement in adults. Considering this knowledge in conjunction with the findings of the aforementioned chapters, Chapter 4 explored associations between parents’ satisfaction of their children’s body size and home environment factors, parent PA practices, and children’s PA and ST. Parents that reported wanting their child to be larger was significantly associated with PA availability and parent PA role modeling. As a whole, these data also highlighted a gender disparity with respect to the promotion and facilitation of PA opportunities between boy and girl preschool-age children. Education including the widespread benefits of PA, health consequences associated with excess accumulation of ST, and recommendations regarding modifying the home environment and parenting practices to create and foster PA opportunities, regardless of child gender, in preschool-age children should be included in childhood obesity prevention efforts.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Preschool children.
Health behavior.
Exercise for children.
Parent and child.


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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