Predictors of Children’s Active Commuting to School: An Observational Evaluation in 5 U.S. Communities

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Few reports examined long term predictors of children’s active commuting to school (walking or cycling to school, ACS).

Purpose:

To identify predictors of ACS over 1 school year among a sample of children with relatively high rates of ACS.

Methods:

Parents were surveyed in September 2010 (Time 1) and April 2011 (Time 2). The dependent variable was children’s commuting mode to school (active versus passive). Independent variables included: 1) parents’ outcome expectations (from Social Cognitive Theory: the expected risks/benefits for their child doing ACS), 2) distance to school, 3) participation in an adult-led walk to school group, 4) temperature, and 5) child demographics. Generalized mixed-models estimated odds ratios for ACS (n = 369 or 49.7% of Time 1 respondents).

Results:

Males (OR = 2.59, 95% CI [1.57–4.30]), adult-led walk to school group participation (OR = 1.80, 95% CI [1.14–2.86]), parents’ outcome expectations (OR = 1.26, 95% CI [1.14–1.39]), temperature (OR = 1.03, 95% CI [1.01–1.07), distance to school (OR = 0.23, 95% CI [0.14–0.37]), and Latino ethnicity (OR = 0.28, 95% CI [0.12–0.65]) were associated with ACS.

Conclusions:

Programs and policies sensitive to parents’ concerns (eg, adult-led walk to school groups) and targeting Latinos and girls appear promising for increasing ACS.

Mendoza is with the Dept of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine and the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Cowan is with Trips for Kids Denver/Boulder. Liu is with the Dept of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.