Barriers to physical activity

Qualitative data on caregiver–daughter perceptions and practices
  • Penny Gordon-Larsen
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD, Carolina Population Center, CB#8120, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill NC 27516
    Department of Nutrition (Gordon-Larsen, Bentley, Ward, Kelsey, Ammerman), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

    Carolina Population Center (Gordon-Larsen, Bentley, Shields), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
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  • Paula Griffiths
    Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University (Griffiths), Loughborough, Leicestershire, England
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  • Margaret E. Bentley
    Department of Nutrition (Gordon-Larsen, Bentley, Ward, Kelsey, Ammerman), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

    Carolina Population Center (Gordon-Larsen, Bentley, Shields), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
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  • Dianne S. Ward
    Department of Nutrition (Gordon-Larsen, Bentley, Ward, Kelsey, Ammerman), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
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  • Kristine Kelsey
    Department of Nutrition (Gordon-Larsen, Bentley, Ward, Kelsey, Ammerman), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
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  • Kenitra Shields
    Carolina Population Center (Gordon-Larsen, Bentley, Shields), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
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  • Alice Ammerman
    Department of Nutrition (Gordon-Larsen, Bentley, Ward, Kelsey, Ammerman), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

    Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (Ammerman), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
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      There is little research on household and physical environment barriers to physical activity, particularly in minority populations at high risk for obesity and inactivity. Few studies include data on caregiver and daughter dyads. Formative data were used to develop intervention strategies and pathways for the Girls Rule! obesity prevention intervention, in under-studied high-risk pre-adolescents.


      Participants included 12 African-American girls (mean age 7.8 years) and their 11 primary female caregivers (mean age 41.8 years)—eight mother–daughter dyads and three grandmother–granddaughter dyads—for a total of 51 interviews across 23 participants interviewed from April to October 2000.A qualitative approach was used for 51 semistructured in-depth interviews with 11 dyads (female caregiver and girl), consisting of up to three interviews per respondent (mean=2.4 interviews per respondent). Interviews were transcribed, coded, and systematically analyzed between January 2002 and January 2003 to identify recurrent patterns and themes related to physical activity.


      Findings indicate clear preference of the girls for sedentary, rather than active, behaviors. Caregivers were unaware of the amount of TV viewed and found positive benefits of TV viewing, including safe supervision of their daughters. Barriers to physical activity include perceived lack of affordable and accessible recreation facilities and low caregiver motivation. Potential intervention strategies identified by respondents include walking for exercise and transportation and several low-cost, favored physical activities, such as hopscotch, jumping rope, and dance.


      These findings point toward several physical activity and obesity intervention strategies that can guide obesity prevention efforts.
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