Background

Parental support for children’s health-related behavior is important in preventing childhood obesity. This study examined the mediating effect of physical activity and screen time in the relationship between parental support for physical activity and adolescents’ body weight.

Methods

A secondary data analysis from a cross-sectional study of 11,422 U.S. high school students was performed using the 2010 National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey. Multi-mediating mediation analysis based on structural equation modeling was conducted using AMOS 25.0.

Results

The mediating analysis revealed that physical activity and screen time significantly mediate the relationship between parental support for physical activity and adolescents’ body weight. Adolescents with less body weight did more exercise (b = -0.04, p < 0.001) and had less screen time (b = 0.09, p < 0.001). Adolescents receiving more parental support for physical activity were more likely to do more exercise (b = 0.69, p < 0.001) and to have less screen time (b = -0.27, p < 0.001). Parental support for physical activity did not have a direct effect on adolescents’ body weight (b = 0.004, p = 0.686).

Conclusions

Understanding the direct and indirect pathways between parental support and adolescents’ health-related behaviors associated with childhood obesity is critical to the development of childhood obesity prevention programs. Health care providers should assess and encourage parental support for physical activity as a means of reversing the childhood obesity epidemic.