Parental Social Support, Ethnicity, and Energy Balance–Related Behaviors in Ethnically Diverse, Low-Income, Urban Elementary Schoolchildren

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This study assessed levels of child-reported parent and family social support associated with physical activity (PA) and fruit and vegetable consumption (FVC) by ethnicity among a lower-income sample of US elementary school students.


Analysis of cross-sectional baseline data of an elementary school–based study from fall, 2010.


Nineteen schools in a large urban school district in central Texas.


Fourth- and fifth-grade children (n = 581) and their parents.

Main Outcome Measures:

Child-reported parental and family social support, 7-day PA, previous day FVC, and weight status.


Child-reported social support, PA, and FVC using descriptive statistics, ANOVA, chi-square tests, and multiple linear regressions were examined.


Child-reported parent and family social support varied by ethnicity (P < .01), with Hispanic children consistently reporting the lowest support. Child-reported social support had a positive association across the 3 energy-balance related behaviors examined (P < .001).

Conclusions and Implications:

Whereas child-reported social support was associated with energy balance–related behaviors across ethnic groups, lower perceived parental and family social support for Hispanic children may represent an important opportunity for intervention.

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