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Family-based social support for physical activity

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise
Decision Makers: Community Members Educators Nonprofit Leaders
Evidence Rating: Expert Opinion
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Family-based social support interventions for physical activity attempt to change health behavior using techniques that increase family members’ support for positive changes. Programs typically include joint or separate educational sessions on health, goal-setting, problem-solving, or family behavioral management and often incorporate physical activities.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased physical activity
Improved physical fitness
Improved weight status

Evidence of Effectiveness

Family-based social support programs for physical activity are a suggested strategy to increase physical activity and physical fitness among children (Cochrane-Waters 2011, Katz 2008). Some studies suggest that family and parent support can positively influence weight status in children when incorporated with multi-component interventions (Campbell 2007, Nixon 2012, Kitzman-Ulrich 2010, Niemeier 2012). A number of other studies find inconclusive results (CG-Physical activity, OConnor 2009, van Sluijs 2011, Knowlden 2012). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Programs that encourage family members to change behaviors or lose weight with their children may more effectively help overweight children lose weight than programs where family members adhere only to a supporting role (Barr-Anderson 2013). In one study, family functioning shows small but significant associations with weight-related behaviors (Berge 2013). Parenting styles may also influence eating behaviors and physical activity levels (Sleddens 2011).


United States

Family-based social support programs for physical activity are implemented throughout the country. Programs can be implemented as independent single component programs, or combined to compliment other interventions. Examples include CARDIAC Kinder (RTIP-CARDIAC Kinder) and the Children’s Health and Activity Modification Program (CHAMP).

Implementation Resources

Active Bodies, Active Minds - Washington Active Bodies Active Minds. Screen-time reduction information and resources for people who care for preschool-aged children. Accessed on November 24, 2015
OWH-Bodyworks - Office of Women's Health (OWH). Bodyworks: A toolkit for healthy teens & strong families. Washington, DC: Office of Women's Health (OWH), US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS); 2012. Accessed on March 16, 2017

Citations - Evidence

Barr-Anderson 2013 - Barr-Anderson DJ, Adams-Wynn AW, DiSantis KI, Kumanyika S. Family-focused physical activity, diet and obesity interventions in African-American girls: A systematic review. Obesity Reviews. 2013;14(1):29–51. Accessed on November 27, 2015
Berge 2013 - Berge JM, Wall M, Larson N, Loth KA, Neumark-Sztainer D. Family functioning: Associations with weight status, eating behaviors, and physical activity in adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2013;52(3):351–7. Accessed on December 1, 2015
Campbell 2007 - Campbell KJ, Hesketh KD. Strategies which aim to positively impact on weight, physical activity, diet and sedentary behaviours in children from zero to five years: A systematic review of the literature. Obesity. 2007;8(4):327-38. Accessed on November 24, 2015
CG-Physical activity - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Physical activity. Accessed on December 19, 2016
Cochrane-Waters 2011* - Waters E, de Silva-Sanigorski A, Burford BJ, et al. Interventions for preventing obesity in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011;(12):CD001871. Accessed on December 14, 2015
Katz 2008* - Katz D, O’Connell M, Njike V, Yeh M-C, Nawaz H. Strategies for the prevention and control of obesity in the school setting: Systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity. 2008;32(12):1780-9. Accessed on February 17, 2016
Kitzman-Ulrich 2010 - Kitzman-Ulrich H, Wilson DK, St. George SM, et al. The integration of a family systems approach for understanding youth obesity, physical activity, and dietary programs. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. 2010;13(3):231–53. Accessed on February 16, 2016
Knowlden 2012* - Knowlden AP, Sharma M. Systematic review of family and home-based interventions targeting paediatric overweight and obesity. Obesity Reviews. 2012;13(6):499-508. Accessed on February 29, 2016
Niemeier 2012* - Niemeier BS, Hektner JM, Enger KB. Parent participation in weight-related health interventions for children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine. 2012;55(1):3–13. Accessed on March 14, 2016
Nixon 2012 - Nixon CA, Moore HJ, Douthwaite W, et al. Identifying effective behavioural models and behaviour change strategies underpinning preschool- and school-based obesity prevention interventions aimed at 4-6-year-olds: A systematic review. Obesity Reviews. 2012;13(Suppl 1):106-17. Accessed on March 3, 2016
OConnor 2009* - O’Connor TM, Jago R, Baranowski T. Engaging parents to increase youth physical activity: A systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2009;37(2):141-9. Accessed on March 14, 2016
Sleddens 2011* - Sleddens EFC, Gerards SMP, Thijs C, de Vries NK, Kremers SPJ. General parenting, childhood overweight and obesity-inducing behaviors: A review. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity. 2011;6(2Part2):e12–27. Accessed on November 9, 2015
van Sluijs 2011* - van Sluijs EMF, Kriemler S, McMinn AM. The effect of community and family interventions on young people’s physical activity levels: A review of reviews and updated systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2011;45(11):914-22. Accessed on December 12, 2015

Citations - Implementation

CHAMP - Lawson Foundation (LF). Children’s health and activity modification program (CHAMP): Western University (2008-2009). Accessed on December 10, 2015
RTIP-CARDIAC Kinder - Research-Tested Intervention Programs (RTIPs). CARDIAC kinder. Accessed on May 24, 2016

Page Last Updated

January 9, 2014

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