Parental Factors Associated with Walking to School and Participation in Organized Activities at Age 5: Analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study

Physical activity is associated with better health. Two sources of activity for children are walking to school and taking part in organized sports and activities. This study uses a large national cohort to examine factors associated with participation in these activities.

  • The Millennium Cohort study contains 5 year follow-up of 17,561 singleton children recruited between 2000-2002 in the UK. All participants were interviewed in their own homes at 9 months, 3 years and 5 years follow-up and all measures were self reports. Logistic regression and likelihood ratio tests were used.
  • Children are less likely to walk to school as income and parental education increase [Adjusted odds: 0.7 (95%CI: 0.6-0.8) for higher income/education compared to low income/no qualifications]. However, if the parent plays with the child in high income families the child is more likely to walk to school [Adjusted odds: 1.67 (95%CI: 1.3-2.1)]. Children taking part in organized activities are from higher income, higher education families, with a car, in a "good" area with non-working mothers. However, in low socio-economic families where the parent plays with the child the child is more likely to take part in organized activities [Adjusted odds: 2.0 (95% CI: 1.5-2.7)].
  • Income is an important determinant of the type of activity available to children. Families that report good health behaviors (non-smoking, low TV viewing) and play with their children show higher levels of physical activity. Thus, parenting practice appears to have a strong impact on their child’s physical activity.

Brophy, S., R. Cooksey, et al. (2011). "Parental factors associated with walking to school and participation in organised activities at age 5: Analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study." BMC Public Health 11(1): 14.

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