Exploring the link between parental sociodemographic characteristics, parental concerns, and children’s physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic


Background: Physical activity (PA) is key to children's health, but nearly half of Canadian children do not meet the recommended levels, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Identifying correlates and mechanisms influencing PA can inform public health policies and interventions. Objective: To examine if parental concerns mediated the relationship between parental sociodemographic characteristics and children's PA during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Proxy-reported data from 5863 parents of children aged 6-14 years from the 2020 Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians–Parenting during the Pandemic data were used. Results: Of 5863 parents, 91.2% were women, 53.4% were working from home during the pandemic. Three quarters (74.3%) of the parents had a university education, 91.9% were a non-visible minority (White), and 89.3% were born in Canada. Almost half (47.7%) of the parents reported concerns for the amount of PA among their children and 46.7% reported that their children engage in low to moderate levels of PA. Parental concerns for the amount of PA among their children partially mediated the relationship between parental visible minority status and children’s PA (47%) and between parental immigration status and children's PA (33%). Conclusions: Parents may play an important role in shaping children’s PA. Specifically, parents and children from marginalized groups including visible minority and immigrants, may require more support and resources to increase their opportunities and access to PA participation. Future intervention strategies for PA promotion efforts ma focus on children within these communities as we recover from the pandemic.