Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 286–297 | Cite as

Insufficient Physical Activity and Overweight: Does Caregiver Screen-Viewing Matter?

  • Yi-Ching Lin
  • Xavier C. C. Fung
  • Meng-Che Tsai
  • Carol Strong
  • Yi-Ping Hsieh
  • Chung-Ying LinEmail author
Original Paper


Physical activity (PA) is essential for children’s health and well-being, yet many children around the world do not meet the recommended PA levels. Screen-viewing behavior is one of the possible factors leading to low levels of PA and being overweight. Although research in Western countries shows that caregivers’ screen-viewing behavior and rule-setting are associated with their children’s screen-viewing behavior, these results may not be generalizable to East Asian populations. Therefore, the current study proposed two mediation models to investigate whether insufficient physical activity mediates the relationship between children’s screen viewing behavior and overweight status, and whether such screen-viewing behavior mediates the relationship between caregiver factors and children’s overweight status. The participants in this study comprised 1031 elementary school students (516 boys and 515 girls) in Taiwan. Through a cross-sectional design, caregivers reported their children’s PA levels, screen-viewing time, body mass index (BMI), home environment, and caregivers’ rules regarding screen-time restrictions. Additionally, an χ2 test was used to examine the differences between children with and without sufficient PA. The results from χ2 tests suggest that, in the insufficient PA group, the caregivers tended to have excessive screen time per day and have no rules to manage their children’s screen-viewing behavior. Furthermore, the children in this group were more likely to have excessive screen-viewing time per day than their counterparts. Sobel tests revealed that insufficient PA was a mediator in the relationship between children’s screen-viewing behavior and being overweight. Children’s screen-viewing behavior was also found to be a mediator in the relationship between caregivers’ factors and being overweight. The results of the current study indicate that caregivers’ screen-viewing behavior and caregivers’ screen-viewing rules may be associated with their children’s insufficient PA levels and overweight problems, which, in turn, are related to their children’s screen-viewing behavior. Future efforts at childhood overweight intervention should consider the inclusion of educational and behavioral programs designed for caregivers, rather than targeting children alone.


Child Overweight Caregivers’ rules Physical activity Screen time 



This study was partly funded by the research grant (106-2629-B-006-001) awarded to Lin YC and Tsai MC by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan.

Author Contributions

Y.C.L.: designed and executed the study, collected the data, and wrote the Method section of the paper. X.C.C.F.: interpreted the data, wrote the Introduction and Discussion sections of the paper. M.C.T., C.S. and Y.P.H.: collaborated with the design, assisted with the data analyses, and assisted in writing of the study. C.Y.L.: designed the study, analyzed the data, wrote part of the results, and collaborated in the writing and editing of the paper. These authors contributed equally: Yi-Ching Lin, Xavier C. C. Fung.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants complied with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee, and were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The Institutional Review Board of the National Taiwan University approved this study.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Early Childhood and Family EducationNational Taipei University of EducationTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social SciencesThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHung HomHong Kong
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, College of MedicineNational Cheng Kung UniversityTainanTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of Public Health, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, College of MedicineNational Cheng Kung UniversityTainanTaiwan
  5. 5.Department of Social Work, College of Nursing and Professional DisciplinesUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA

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