Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Health, Physical Education, and Recreation

Department name when degree awarded

Health and Human Movement

Committee Chair(s)

Julie Gast


Julie Gast


Philip Waite


Tamara Vitale


Children's physical inactivity and poor eating patterns have received a great deal of attention in our country and worldwide. Studies have been conducted to identify determinates related to children's physical activity and eating patterns and to identify strategies for promoting positive behaviors. Parental support is a well-accepted determinate of children's physical activity and eating patterns. However, little qualitative research has been done to determine parental attitudes and perceptions related to this critical role. First, the study sought to gain a greater understanding of parental perspectives on their children's physical activity and eating patterns. Second, the study examined parental attitudes and perceptions of their own personal roles related to their children's physical activity and eating patterns and the possible role of others. Focus groups were conducted with parents who had a child or children in kndergarten through sixth grade in the Madison School District in Rexburg, Idaho. Grounded theory was used to analyze findings. The results of the study indicated common elements of parental perceptions of physical activity and positive eating patterns in children. These elements were the same for supportive networks, supportive environments, and individual factors. Of these elements, most participants felt that their role as a parent was the most critical. Although knowing how critical their involvement was, participants continually brought up concerns and barriers associated with their role. The most common concerns addressed by parents were the significant impact of not having enough time and busyness of family schedules. Findings indicated that these elements should be considered and researched when conducting a needs assessment and planning interventions designed to increase physical activity and improve eating patterns in children. Findings also indicated that parents should play an extremely important role when collecting needs assessment data related to the physical activity and eating patterns of children. Interventions aimed at improving the health of children should be family focused and include strategies for incorporating positive changes into households and must address the demands of families' schedules. Effective health education strategies may also include facilitating parental involvement in community and school advocacy related to their perceived need for changes.




This work made publicly available electronically on January 19, 2011.