Objective: To examine, using an Ecological Systems Theoretical framework, relationships between weight status and child, parent and community characteristics and risk factors among preschool children.
Methods: Cross sectional data collected from 140 children and their parents from 11 randomly selected preschools. Outcome variables included: motor development; perceived competence; objectively measured physical activity; time spent in active and quiet play; location and number of televisions; parental rules around physical activity and time spent watching television; availability of sport and physical activity programs; parks and open spaces and access to footpaths.
Results: Overweight children spent more time in quiet play and watching television and less time in active play and physical activity. Perceived competence and motor development were similar for both overweight and non-overweight children. Associations between weight status and several parent and community characteristics were not evident, except for access to footpaths. Overweight children had greater access to footpaths compared with non-overweight children (p=0.046).
Conclusion: The results reported here showed little difference between overweight and non-overweight children in relation to a variety of child, parent and community variables. However for some characteristics, differences in older children have been reported. Longitudinal studies are required to confirm when these characteristics begin to differ, what effects these differences have on behaviour and weight-status, and therefore when targeted treatment should be provided during a child's development.