Active transportation and independent mobility of school-aged children and their parents: a multi-site study

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Hecker, Victoria J.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Health Sciences
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Health Sciences
Active transportation (AT) and independent mobility (IM) are important sources of physical activity for children. This study investigated whether parents’ travel mode to school as a child, current travel mode to work, and parental accompaniment on the trip home from school are associated with their children’s AT and IM. Children in grades 4-6 (n=1699) were recruited from urban, suburban, and rural schools in Vancouver, Ottawa and Trois-Rivières. Parents reported their current travel mode to work, IM, and school travel mode as a child. Children self-reported their IM using Hillman’s six mobility licenses. Multiple imputation was performed to replace missing data. Gender-stratified generalized linear mixed models adjusted for child age, parent respondent’s gender, urbanization, and socioeconomic status were used to examine parental influences on their child’s AT and IM. The older a parent was allowed to travel alone as a child, the less IM their child was allowed. Older children and girls whose parents biked to work or lived in Trois-Rivières had higher IM. Parental accompaniment on the trip home from school was associated with less AT trips. Boys in Vancouver and Trois-Rivières reported more active trips compared to Ottawa, though there was no differences found between Vancouver and Trois-Rivières. No significant association was found between parent travel to school as a child and AT. There were no significant associations found between a parent’s current travel mode to work with IM or AT in multivariable models. This project found that children may have more opportunities for AT if parents allow them to come home from school unaccompanied. Parents who experienced IM later may be more restrictive of their child’s IM. This potential for a generational ‘carry-over’ effect has implications for future interventions to promote IM.
active transportation , independent mobility , physical activity of children , parents' travel modes as children , parents' travel modes as adults , mode of travel to school