Family environment; Physical activity; Parenting strategies; Behavior; Obesity


Background: The family environment is a key determinant of children’s physical activity. The importance of the extended African American family is well established, but there is little research on its influence on school age children’s physical activity. Methods: We recruited eight families in which grandparents and other adult relatives played a central role in child supervision. Semi-structured interviews with parents, other adult relatives, and children revealed various perspectives on the influences of culture and families on children’s weight-related behaviors. Results: Children were between the ages of 6 and 11, and five of the families resided in neighborhoods in which at least 20% of the households reported a total income below the poverty level. Adults described efforts to develop active lifestyles for their families. Children talked about experiencing different types of behavioral influences from parents and other adult relatives. Conclusions: The findings suggest that resource limitations, neighborhood characteristics, and adults’ perceptions of children’s activity needs influence the ways that parents and adult relatives engage children in physical activity.