Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 678–691 | Cite as

Associations of Socio-demographic, Family, and Neighborhood Factors with Physical Activity-Related Parenting Practices Among Hong Kong Preschoolers’ Parents

  • Yi-nam Suen
  • Ester CerinEmail author
  • Anthony Barnett
  • Wendy Y. J. Huang
  • Robin R. Mellecker


Objectives Regular engagement in physical activity (PA) has numerous health benefits in young children. Young children’s parents can influence their children’s PA behavior through different PA-related parenting practices. This cross-sectional study examined the independent contributions of socio-demographic, family/home and parent-perceived neighborhood environmental characteristics explaining PA-related parenting practices encouraging or discouraging PA among Hong Kong preschool-aged children (3–5 years-old). Methods Hong Kong Chinese preschoolers’ parents were recruited from pre-selected kindergartens and Maternal and Child Health Centers located in areas stratified by residential density and socio-economic status. They self-completed socio-demographic, family/home and perceived neighborhood characteristics and PA-related parenting practices questionnaires. Generalized linear models were used to examine associations of socio-demographic, family/home and neighborhood variables with PA-related parenting practices. Results Socio-demographic and family/home characteristics were significantly correlated with parenting practices encouraging and discouraging PA. Parent-perceived neighborhood characteristics were significantly correlated with parenting practices discouraging PA only. Conclusions for Practice This study identified correlates of PA-related parenting practices among parents of Hong Kong Chinese preschoolers. The findings suggest future PA-promoting interventions among Chinese preschoolers via the promotion of parenting practices encouraging children’s PA should consider multiple factors, including family relationships and childcare sharing, promotion of PA and its benefits among parents, and neighborhood social cohesion, traffic safety and safety from crime.


Chinese Parenting practices Neighborhood environment Family Socio-demographics 



This study was supported by grant # 201001159011—Seed Funding Program for Basic Research (The University of Hong Kong) awarded to Ester Cerin. Ester Cerin is supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT#140100085). The authors would like to thank all primary caregivers for their participation. We also thank the staff of all kindergartens and Maternal and Child Health Centers of the Department of Health of Hong Kong for their coordination and cooperation which made it possible to successfully complete this project.


  1. Census and Statistics Department. (2017). Table E489: Land area, mid-year population and population density by District Council district. Hong Kong: Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from
  2. Cerin, E., Baranowski, T., Barnett, A., Butte, N., Hughes, S., Lee, R. E. et al. (2016). Places where preschoolers are (in)active: an observational study on Latino preschoolers and their parents using objective measures. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 13, 29. Scholar
  3. Cerin, E., Macfarlane, D. J., Ko, H. H., & Chan, K. C. A. (2007). Measuring perceived neighbourhood walkability in Hong Kong. Cities, 24(3), 209–217. Scholar
  4. Cerin, E., Suen, Y. N., Barnett, A., Huang, W. Y. J., & Mellecker, R. R. (2017). Validity of a scale of neighbourhood informal social control relevant to pre-schoolers’ physical activity: A cross-sectional study. SSM - Population Health, 3(Supplement C), 57–65. Scholar
  5. Community Sports Committee of the Sports Commission. (2013). Healthy exercise for all campaign physical fitness test for the community. Hong Kong: Hong Kong SAR Government. Retrieved from
  6. Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting style as context—an integrative model. Psychological Bulletin, 113(3), 487–496. Scholar
  7. De Vaus, D., & Wise, S. (1996). The fear of attack: Parents’ concerns for the safety of their children. Family Matters, 43, 34–38.Google Scholar
  8. Department of Health. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. (2018). Physical activity guideline for children aged 2 to 6. Retrieved from
  9. Duggan, M., Lenhart, A., Lampe, C., & Ellison, N. B. (2015). Parents and social media: Mothers are especially likely to give and receive support on social media. Pew Research Center.
  10. Gaines, S. O. Jr., Marelich, W. D., Bledsoe, K. L., Steers, W. N., Henderson, M. C., Granrose, C. S, et al. (1997). Links between race/ethnicity and cultural values as mediated by racial/ethnic identity and moderated by gender. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(6), 1460–1476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gil, A. G., Wagner, E. F., & Vega, W. A. (2000). Acculturation familism, and alcohol use among Latino adolescent males: Longitudinal relations. Journal of Community Psychology, 28(4), 443–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gubbels, J. S., Kremers, S. P., Stafleu, A., de Vries, S. I., Goldbohm, R. A., Dagnelie, P. C., et al. (2011). Association between parenting practices and children’s dietary intake, activity behavior and development of body mass index: The KOALA birth cohort study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 8, 18. Scholar
  13. Ha, A. S., Macdonald, D., & Pang, B. O. H. (2010). Physical activity in the lives of Hong Kong Chinese children. Sport Education and Society, 15(3), 331–346. Scholar
  14. Hong Kong Housing Authority. (2017). Public housing portfolio: Hong Kong Housing Authority annual report 2016/7. Hong Kong: Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from
  15. Irwin, J. D., He, M., Bouck, L. M., Tucker, P., & Pollett, G. L. (2005). Preschoolers’ physical activity behaviours: parents’ perspectives. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 96(4), 299–303.Google Scholar
  16. Ji, J., & Norling, A. M. (2004). Sexual satisfaction of married urban Chinese. Journal of Developing Societies, 20(1–2), 21–38. Scholar
  17. Joe, L., Carlson, J. A., & Sallis, J. F. (2008). Active where? Individual item reliability statistics parent/child survey. Retrieved from
  18. Keefe, S., Padilla, A., & Carlos, M. (1979). The Mexican-American extended family as an emotional support system. Human Organization, 38(2), 144–152. Scholar
  19. Kim, D., Subramanian, S. V., Gortmaker, S. L., & Kawachi, I. (2006). US state- and county-level social capital in relation to obesity and physical inactivity: A multilevel, multivariable analysis. Social Science and Medicine, 63(4), 1045–1059. Scholar
  20. Lampard, A. M., Jurkowski, J. M., Lawson, H. A., & Davison, K. K. (2013). Family ecological predictors of physical activity parenting in low-income families. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 39(4), 97–103. Scholar
  21. Leung, J. T. Y. (2017). Cultural family beliefs, maternal sacrifice, and adolescent psychological competence in Chinese poor single-mother families. Social Development, 26, 767–782. doi:10:111/sode.12239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lindstrom, M., Hanson, B. S., & Ostergren, P. O. (2001). Socioeconomic differences in leisure-time physical activity: The role of social participation and social capital in shaping health related behaviour. Social Science and Medicine, 52(3), 441–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Macfarlane, D. J., Lee, C. C., Ho, E. Y., Chan, K. L., & Chan, D. T. (2007). Reliability and validity of the Chinese version of IPAQ (short, last 7 days). Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 10(1), 45–51. Scholar
  24. O’Connor, T. M., Cerin, E., Hughes, S. O., Robles, J., Thompson, D. I., Mendoza, J. A., et al. (2014a). Psychometrics of the preschooler physical activity parenting practices instrument among a Latino sample. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 11, 3. Scholar
  25. O’Connor, T. M., Cerin, E., Lee, R. E., Parker, N., Chen, T. A., Hughes, S. O., et al. (2014b). Environmental and cultural correlates of physical activity parenting practices among Latino parents with preschool-aged children: Ninos activos. BMC Public Health, 14, 707. Scholar
  26. Oliver, M., Schofield, G. M., & Schluter, P. J. (2010). Parent influences on preschoolers’ objectively assessed physical activity. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 13(4), 403–409. Scholar
  27. Pocock, M., Trivedi, D., Wills, W., Bunn, F., & Magnusson, J. (2010). Parental perceptions regarding healthy behaviours for preventing overweight and obesity in young children: A systematic review of qualitative studies. Obesity Reviews, 11(5), 338–353. Scholar
  28. Suen, Y. N., Cerin, E., Barnett, A., Huang, W. Y. J., & Mellecker, R. R. (2017). Development of physical activity-related parenting practices scales for urban Chinese parents of preschoolers: Confirmatory factor analysis and reliability. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 14(9), 692–700. Scholar
  29. Suen, Y. N., Cerin, E., Huang, W. Y. J., & Mellecker, R. R. (2015a). Measures of environmental correlates of physical activity for urban Chinese preschool-aged children: Development and reliability. Sage Open. Scholar
  30. Suen, Y. N., Cerin, E., & Mellecker, R. R. (2014). Development and reliability of a scale of physical-activity related informal social control for parents of Chinese pre-schoolers. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 11, 87. Scholar
  31. Suen, Y. N., Cerin, E., & Wu, S. L. (2015b). Parental practices encouraging and discouraging physical activity in Hong Kong Chinese preschoolers. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 12(3), 361–369. Scholar
  32. Trost, S. G., Sallis, J. F., Pate, R. R., Freedson, P. S., Taylor, W. C., & Dowda, M. (2003). Evaluating a model of parental influence on youth physical activity. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 25(4), 277–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tucker, P., van Zandvoort, M. M., Burke, S. M., & Irwin, J. D. (2011). The influence of parents and the home environment on preschoolers’ physical activity behaviours: A qualitative investigation of childcare providers’ perspectives. BMC Public Health, 11, 168. Scholar
  34. Ziviani, J., Macdonald, D., Jenkins, D., Rodger, S., Batch, J., & Cerin, E. (2006). Physical activity of young children. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 26(1), 4–14. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.Mary MacKillop Institute for Health ResearchAustralian Catholic UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Public HealthThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  4. 4.Department of Physical EducationHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongChina
  5. 5.Department of Sports Science and Physical EducationThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina

Personalised recommendations