OBJECTIVE: With the prevalence of childhood overweight reaching epidemic proportions, there is an increased need to identify factors which may aid in the development of successful weight intervention programs. Given that lower levels of physical activity are inversely correlated with weight status in children, research has focused on identifying and addressing reported barriers to physically activity. A relationship exists between the number of reported barriers and weight status such that children who are overweight report more barriers to being physically active. However, important demographic and psychosocial correlates of barriers have not been examined.
METHODS: This study investigates the relationship among parent distress, peer victimization, childhood depression, barriers to physical activity, and physical activity among a sample of 95 clinically overweight children and adolescents. Higher levels of parent distress, peer victimization, and childhood depression are predictive of a variety of barriers to physical activity, with peer victimization emerging as the strongest predictor of barriers. Barriers to physical activity mediate the relationships between peer victimization, parent distress, child depression and physical activity.
RESULTS: These findings have significant implications for the development/design of weight intervention programs. Interventions targeting increases in physical activity should not only focus on the barriers children report, but should also include a psycho-emotional component to address factors such as parent distress, peer victimization and child mood that may contribute to barrier formation/maintenance.
CONCLUSION: Future interventions may benefit from the identification of additional factors that impact barrier formation and physical activity levels among children.
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