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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4195-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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Preschool children can spend up to 12 h a day in sedentary time and few meet current recommendations for screen time. Little is known about ecological correlates that could be targeted to decrease specific versus total sedentary behaviour. This study examined whether the correlates of screen time and sedentary time differ in preschool boys and girls.
Parents participating in the HAPPY Study in 2008/09 in Melbourne, Australia reported their child’s usual screen time and potential individual, social and physical environment correlates. Children wore ActiGraph GT1M accelerometers for eight days to objectively assess sedentary time (<100 counts.min−1). Multivariable linear regression analyses were performed, stratified by sex and controlling for child age, preschool/childcare attendance and clustering by centre of recruitment. Correlates significantly associated with screen time or sedentary time in individual models (p < 0.05) were included in final combined models.
Children were sedentary for 301.1 (SD 34.1) minutes/day and spent 108.5 (SD 69.6) minutes/day in screen time. There were no sex differences in screen or sedentary time. In the final models, sleep duration was inversely associated with girls’ sedentary time and boys’ screen time. The only other consistent correlates for boys and girls were parental self-efficacy to limit screen time and screen time rules, which were inversely associated with screen time for both sexes. Parents reporting that they get bored watching their child play was inversely associated and maternal television viewing was positively associated with boys’ screen time. Paternal age was positively associated with boys’ sedentary time. Maternal ethnicity was inversely associated and paternal education, child preferences for sedentary behaviour, and parental concerns about child’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour were positively associated with girls’ screen time.
The modifiable correlates of total sedentary and screen time identified in this study could be targeted in interventions to reduce these behaviours. With correlates differing for screen and sedentary time, and between boys and girls, interventions may also benefit from including behaviour- and sex-specific strategies.