Research Study Abstract

Environmental correlates of sedentary time and physical activity in preschool children living in a relatively rural setting in the Netherlands: a cross-sectional analysis of the GECKO Drenthe cohort

  • Published on May 14, 2019

Objectives This study examined the relationship between environmental correlates and children’s sedentary time (ST), light physical activity (LPA) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in preschool children.

Cross-sectional study

A birth cohort in Drenthe, a northern province and relatively rural area of the Netherlands.

Valid data both for the ActiGraph and the questionnaire were obtained from 505 child–parent pairs.

Primary and secondary outcome measures
ST, LPA and MVPA of children were objectively measured by ActiGraph accelerometry (minimum three wearing days, more than 10 hours/day). Environmental correlates were collected using a questionnaire reported by parents that included household characteristics, parental and children’s PA behaviours and neighbourhood environment (eg, traffic safety, road network and presence of PA facilities). Potential correlates were identified using linear regression analysis, adjusted by age, gender, siblings, and maternal age and education level. Ordinary least square regression-based path analysis was used to estimate direct and indirect effects on activity outcomes in mediation models.

Linear regression analysis showed that ‘parents taking children to play sports’ was related to less ST, more LPA and MVPA; more outdoor play was also related to less ST and more LPA, but not MVPA. Parents who perceived more PA facilities in their neighbourhood showed more support for ‘taking children to play sports’, and this was associated with less ST or more MVPA compared with children living with less PA facilities in their neighbourhood. No evidence was found for a relation between traffic safety or road network with ST, LPA and MVPA.

This study indicated that parental support and child outdoor play may influence children’s daily PA patterns. Convenient neighbourhood PA facilities, such as parks and playgrounds, had an indirect effect through parental support associated with lower children’s ST and higher MVPA, even in relatively rural areas.


  • Congchao Lu 1,2,3
  • Guowei Huang 3,4
  • Eva Corpeleijn 1


  • 1

    Department of Epidemiology, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

  • 2

    School of Public Health, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China

  • 3

    Tianjin Key Laboratory of Environment, Nutrition and Public Health, Centre for International Collaborative Research on Environment, Nutrition and Public Health, Tianjin, China

  • 4

    Department of Nutrition and Food Science, School of Public Health, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China


BMJ Open

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