The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines were recently developed to provide public health guidelines integrating recommendations for physical activity, sedentary, and sleep behaviours for the pediatric population ranging from 0 to 4 years and 5 to 17 years [1, 2]. Children and youth who adhere to these guidelines are more likely to display healthy growth, body composition, cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal fitness, cardiovascular and metabolic health, motor development, cognitive development, academic achievement, emotional regulation, pro-social behaviours, and overall quality of life [3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12]. Furthermore, healthy movement behaviours in childhood are associated with a higher likelihood of healthy physical activity [13], sedentary [14], and sleep [15] behaviours in later adolescence or adulthood and their commensurate positive health outcomes [16, 17].

Because of the unequivocal holistic health benefits of healthy movement behaviours during childhood and adolescence, several authoritative groups around the world have released, endorsed or promoted evidence-based movement guidelines and recommendations to inform the public [1, 2, 18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31]. A sample of these guidelines, resources and links are summarized in Table 1 to demonstrate the consistency of recommendations and the rapid global adoption of the 24-h movement paradigm. In essence, these guidelines from many countries and jurisdictions recommend that children move more, sit less, limit recreational screen-time, and preserve a good night’s sleep every day. The Canadian 24-h movement guidelines [1, 2] were the first such guidelines and are highlighted in bold in Table 1.

Table 1 Movement Behaviour Guidelines for Children and Youth (ages 0–17 years) from different authoritative organizations

Many studies have shown that health benefits accumulate with each additional movement guideline met (i.e., physical activity, sedentary behaviour/screen-time, sleep) [9, 32,33,34,35,36,37]. Unfortunately, among Canadian children, only 13% of 3–4-year-olds [9], 17% of 5–17 year-olds [9, 38], and 3% of 11–15 year-olds [34] adhere to the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines [1, 2]. Similar low adherence to healthy movement behaviour recommendations among children and youth have been reported in samples from Australia [39], Belgium [40], Mozambique [41], New Zealand [42], Sweden [43], the United Kingdom [44], the United States [37, 45, 46], and even lower adherences in China [35], Singapore [47] and South Korea [36]. Clearly, the need to promote healthy movement behaviours among children and youth is a world-wide public health priority.

The promotion of increased physical activity, decreased sedentary behaviour, and good sleep hygiene (e.g., routines and practices that are conducive to sleeping well) can occur in multiple settings, such as in childcare [48], at school [49], and within the community [50, 51]. Children and youth also spend considerable time with siblings and in the care of their parents or legal guardians, suggesting family-based initiatives are likely central to improving movement behaviours at the population level. Family influence (e.g., parents, guardians, siblings) on physical activity [52], sedentary behaviour [53], and sleep [54] has received considerable research attention. Family influence on a child can take many forms, such as modelling [55], encouragement [56], logistical support [57], rules and restrictions [54], co-participation [58], and spectating/supervision [59]. Parenting practices that influence child and youth health behaviours include components of responsiveness (providing encouragement and autonomy), structure (providing social and physical environments) and demandingness (restrictive and punitive practices) [60, 61]. Family systems and behaviours are complex; the family unit is in a constant cycle of interactions among members, with evolution and change being inherent [62,63,64]. Family membership can vary considerably, as can roles and responsibilities; however, parents (or legal guardians) have unique legal responsibilities, liabilities, and decision-making authority.

With constantly changing environments (including practices, policies, social norms, built features, technology) at home, childcare centres, schools and in communities, coupled with the new paradigm of integrated movement behaviours [1, 2], the challenges for achieving healthy movement behaviours can be overwhelming for families and those who support them (e.g., public health professionals, health care providers, teachers, policymakers). Accordingly, a comprehensive process was initiated in Canada to develop and release an Consensus Statement on the Role of the Family in the Physical Activity, Sedentary, and Sleep Behaviours of Children and Youth (0–17 years) to consolidate related evidence, highlight key facts, and provide guidance to families and those who support families on how to promote regular healthy movement behaviours of children and youth. The process and this manuscript were modelled after similar initatives that proved to be successful and well-received by the academic community (all cited > 100 times according to Scopus [1, 2, 65,66,67,68,69]). The purpose of this manuscript is to describe the process used to develop the Consensus Statement and present, explain, substantiate, and discuss the final Consensus Statement.


Active Healthy Kids Canada and ParticipACTION (Canadian not-for-profit organizations) have been producing Canadian Report Cards on Physical Activity for Children and Youth since 2005 [70,71,72,73,74]. These Report Cards provide a public-facing synthesis of the best available evidence of how Canada is doing across a range of indicators related to movement behaviours, and the settings and sources of influence that serve as barriers or enablers of these behaviours. In recent years, the Report Card has also served as an effective dissemination and distribution vehicle for additional “knowledge products”. These knowledge products serve as complementary adjuncts to the Report Card but are also stand-alone resources. Previous knowledge products have included the Global Matrix in 2014 [75], the Active Outdoor Play Position Statement in 2015 [76], the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth in 2016 [1], and the Expert Statement on Physical Activity and Brain Health in Children and Youth in 2018 ( This Consensus Statement on the Role of the Family in the Physical Activity, Sedentary, and Sleep Behaviours of Children and Youth is the latest in this list of knowledge products and is contained within the 2020 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth [77].

This project was initiated in partnership by ParticipACTION and the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO) at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute. The development and release of the 2020 Consensus Statement included the establishment of a multi-disciplinary Expert Panel, completion of six reviews (three literature, two scoping, and one review of reviews), custom data analyses from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), integration of related research identified by Expert Panel members, a stakeholder consultation process, establishment of consensus, and the development of a media, public relations, communications and launch plan.

To establish the Expert Panel, the project leaders (MST, LMV, RER) created a list of experts in the field of children’s movement behaviours, family health research, advocates and thought leaders in these areas. Email invitations were used to recruit Expert Panel members. While the project was Canadian led and Canadian focussed, two international candidates with prominent research profile in this area were also invited to join the Expert Panel and provide an international perspective.

The six reviews were undertaken to help inform the Consensus Statement after initial consultation with the multi-disciplinary Expert Panel. The first three reviews (reviews #1–3) were conducted 9 months prior to the last three reviews (reviews #4–6). Findings from reviews #1–3 were used to determine whether there was sufficient evidence on family and children’s movement behaviours, and whether the Expert Panel was in a position to write a consensus statement on this topic. Members of the Expert Panel reviewed the findings from reviews #1–3 and agreed to proceed with reviews #4–6. Team members responsible for conducting reviews #1–3 differed from those responsible for conducting reviews #4–6. This approach was taken in order to draw on the different expertise and experience of team members and to share workload burden. Nevertheless, all reviews followed the basic PRISMA statements for reporting reviews [78, 79]. The overall purposes of the systematic literature reviews were to: i) examine the breadth of existing research on family and children and youth’s physical activity, sedentary, and sleep behaviours, and categorize articles by type of familial influence, ii) synthesize findings of frequently researched themes within each movement behaviour, iii) provide an overview of family-systems based theories used in the disciplines of psychology, sociology, and/or social work; iv) provide an overview of family-based theories or family behavioural models used to understand child health behaviour change, v) identify significant correlates of parental support of child and youth healthy 24-h movement behaviours, and vi) evaluate the efficacy of child and youth interventions focused on changes in physical activity, sedentary and/or sleep behaviours, where at least one parent was involved in the intervention. Therefore, the six reviews investigated the evidence on: i) family influences and characteristics and children and youth’s physical activity behaviours (review #1); ii) family characteristics and children and youth’s sedentary behaviours and screen-time behaviours (review #2); iii) family characteristics and children and youth’s sleep behaviours (review #3); iv) family systems approaches applied to understand 24-h movement behaviours among children and youth (review #4); v) correlates of parental support of child and youth 24-h movement behaviours (review #5); and, vi) family-based interventions on children and youth 24-h movement behaviours (review #6).

To better understand the relationships between family structure and child movement behaviours in Canada, custom analyses from Statistics Canada’s CHMS [80] were requested. The CHMS is a large, nationally representative repeated cross-sectional survey of Canadians aged 3–79 years that gathers directly measured health data on Canadians in two-year cycles. Data are gathered through a detailed health interview and a visit to a mobile examination centre where several direct measures of health are taken (e.g., anthropometry, physical fitness, accelerometry-measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour, blood pressure; and biospecimen collection for analysis of chronic and infectious disease biomarkers, nutritional status, and environmental exposures). Complete details of the CHMS are available at Analyses obtained included merged data from cycles 1–5 (2007–2017) that described relationships between accelerometer-measured variables (including average minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity [MVPA], light physical activity, sedentary time, and step counts) by number of children in the household and single- versus two-parent households, by age groups (5–11 [cycle 2–5 only] and 12–17 years) and sex. Similar analyses were also obtained for self-reported sleep duration, screen-time and physical activity domains (active transportation, recreational physical activity, occupational/household physical activity); however, adult and youth results are from cycles 4–5 combined only, and children and preschoolers results are from cycles 2, 3, 4, and 5 combined. Screen-time results included cycles 2, 3, 4 only due to a response option change in cycle 5 that makes it non-comparable to previous cycles. The CHMS also samples same-family parent-child dyads in approximately one fifth of the sample in each cycle. Recently, findings from the dyad file comparing parent-child physical activity, screen-time and fitness were also gathered.

A small Steering Committee with four representatives (RER, MDG, LMV, MST) from the larger Expert Panel was formed to organize the work plan, complete the reviews, draft the Consensus Statement and related manuscript, and report back to the multi-disciplinary Expert Panel. Expert Panel members were selected based on their research, practice, and/or professional experience related to the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines [1, 2] and/or family healthy movement behaviours and/or involvement with organizations interested in children and youth in the context of the family, with stratification across movement behaviours (i.e., physical activity, sedentary behaviours, sleep) and attention to geography, gender and career-stage diversity. The Expert Panel first met on May 16–17, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. The objectives of this first meeting were to meet and network; explain the history and purpose of the ParticipACTION Report Card and how this Consensus Statement relates to the Report Card; present background efforts and research; brainstorm content/focus; and discuss the form, format, timelines and logistics of the Consensus Statement development. The Expert Panel was also invited to provide suggestions for additional panel members to fill any knowledge or expertise gaps. Four additional members were invited and all accepted invitations to be involved in the subsequent meeting and related project tasks.

The group met for a follow-up meeting in January 23–24, 2020 in Toronto, Canada, where results of the reviews and custom analyses were presented, other research evidence was discussed, a glossary and a conceptual model were developed, initial communication and dissemination strategies were planned, and organization for a stakeholder consultation was initiated. In addition, a first draft of the Consensus Statement was created by the Expert Panel and finalized after the meeting through an iterative process to achieve consensus.

An online survey was developed and administered to solicit assessments and comments from stakeholders on the draft Consensus Statement. The survey was designed to seek assessments of the clarity and level of support for the various components of the Consensus Statement (title, summary, evidence, conceptual model, recommendations) separately. A copy of the survey is provided as Additional File Survey. Quantitative data were gathered from five-point rating scales that went from strongly disagree to strongly agree and qualitative data were gathered through open comment boxes for each component. The survey was disseminated through the networks of Expert Panel members. The survey was only live for 4 days because of time restrictions related to a set release date. The Steering Committee collated the responses and thematic analysis was undertaken to identify prominent or emerging themes to help better shape the wording, content and utility of the Consensus Statement. The Consensus Statement was revised accordingly. Finally, the revised Consensus Statement was circulated to the entire Expert Panel for final comment, revisions, and sign-off. The final Consensus Statement was translated into French and both the English and French versions went through a creative design process by ParticipACTION for inclusion in the 2020 ParticipACTION Report Card. A summary overview of the timelines and key components of the Consensus Statement is provided in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Overview of timelines and key components of the Consensus Statement development


Establishment of expert panel

Twenty-one candidates were initially invited to join the Expert Panel, including two international delegates, and information was provided on the commitement required. Fourteen of the invitations were accepted. Reasons for invitation decline were either too many concurrent commitments (n = 4) or no response received (n = 4). One international delegate declined and the other did not respond. At the first Consensus Panel meeting four additional candidates were identified and invited to join. Invitations were sent and all four accepted. The final Expert Panel composition included 17 experts. Two research staff (KB, MP) provided significant support to the Expert Panel.

An overview of the evidence obtained from the six reviews, analyses from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Health Measures Survey, results of the stakeholder consultation, final conceptual model, presentation of final Consensus Statement, and release and evaluation plans are provided below.

Family and children and Youth’s movement Behaviours (reviews #1–3)

Inclusion and exclusion criteria for reviews #1–3 are summarized in Additional File Table S1. Article titles and abstracts for each review were screened and categorized into themes. A summary of the search process, the findings organized by theme, and all references are provided in Additional Files Review #1, Review #2, and Review #3, respectively. Search details and key findings of the most frequently researched family characteristics related to physical activity (physical activity modelling, parental emotional support, sociodemographic factors, and parental beliefs, attitudes and knowledge), sedentary behaviour (parental behaviours, sociodemographic factors, and household practices) and sleep (household practices, sociodemographic factors, and family environment) are outlined in Table 2.

Table 2 Search details and key findings of reviews #1–3

Family systems theory, correlates of parental support for child and youth movement Behaviours, and family-based interventions (reviews #4–6)

Inclusion and exclusion criteria for reviews #4–6 are summarized in Additional File Table S2. A summary of the search process for reviews 4–5, and all references can be found in Additional Files Review #4, and Review #5, respectively. The search process for review #6 can be found in Additional File Figure S1 (all references for review #6 are cited directly in the manuscript). Key findings are highlighted in Table 3. Review #4 highlights the dynamic and fluid nature of the family system. While family systems have been incorporated into many schematics applied to child movement behaviours, the evaluation of these family systems approaches is scarce in the empirical literature. Review #5 found few sociodemographic correlates of parental support for movement behaviours. Almost all of this research has been conducted on physical activity and not sedentary and sleep behaviours. Age was negatively associated with support. There is evidence that parenting cognitions about support (attitudes, perceived control, intentions) are key correlates of child and youth physical activity, while planning to support one’s child is important for physical activity and sleep. Finally, review #6 showed that considerable family intervention research is accumulating for child and youth physical activity promotion, followed by family involvement in screen-time interventions and less research on family involvement in child and youth sleep. Physical activity research has noted general effectiveness of family interventions, while the efficacy of family-based screen-time interventions is less conclusive and the efficacy of family-based sleep interventions unknown. There are few moderators that have been identified for these interventions, but merely providing educational material for families may be ineffective in changing child and youth physical activity; instead, the current evidence shows that implementing behavioural approaches with families, including planning and setting goals, may be successful.

Table 3 Search details and key findings of reviews #4–6

Evidence from the Canadian health measures survey (CHMS)

The results from the custom CHMS accelerometer analyses are presented below. In essence they show no significant differences in daily MVPA for boys or girls, of any age, based on number of siblings in the household. One exception is that for boys 12–17 years of age, having siblings had a positive association with physical activity. No differences in daily MVPA in 5-to-17 year-old children and youth according to a single- versus two-parent household structure; however, for 3-to-4 year-olds there is an effect whereby those living in households with two parents are more active than those living in households with one parent. There were no significant differences in the proportion of children aged 3 to 11 years meeting the daily MVPA recommendation of ≥60 min according to number of siblings in the household or single- versus two-parent household.

CHMS data on self- or parental-reported movement behaviours were also available for active transportation, recreational physical activity, occupational/household physical activity, screen-time and sleep duration by number of siblings in the household and by single- versus two-parent household. For children aged 3 to 4 years and for youth aged 12 to 17 years, there were no significant differences for any variables by number of siblings or parents. For children aged 5 to 11 years, the following significant differences were observed:

  • Girls with no siblings or one sibling participated in more organized sports, lessons, and leagues compared to girls with two or more siblings;

  • Boys with two or more siblings participated in more unstructured play outside of school compared to boys with one sibling or less;

  • Girls in two-parent households participated in more organized sports, lessons, and leagues compared to girls in one-parent households;

  • Girls and boys from two-parent households had less screen-time compared to single-parent households; and,

  • Boys from two-parent households had more sleep compared to boys from single parent households.

In addition to the custom analyses described above, recently published findings from the CHMS examined parent and child sedentary behaviour and physical activity in early childhood [239]. This study found that higher parental screen-time, sedentary time, light physical activity and MVPA were significantly associated with higher screen-time, sedentary time, light physical activity, and MVPA, respectively, of their children in this large representative sample of Canadian 3–5-year-olds. The strength of relationships did not differ between weekdays and weekend days, sons and daughters or mothers and fathers [239].

Recently published findings from the same family parent-child dyad file explored parent-child associations for physical activity and screen-time [112]. These findings demonstrated the parents’ MVPA (parental role modelling) was associated with that of the child, with each additional 20 min of parental MVPA being associated with an extra 5 min of child MVPA [112]. Parents’ sedentary time was also associated with daughters’ sedentary time on weekends, and sons’ after school. Supporting children to be active through enrolment in organized sports, leagues or lessons was also positively associated with a child’s MVPA. Parental role modelling and supporting children to be active had independent effects. This is important because in some cases, parental modelling may be an insufficient influence on the physical activity of their children because parental participation in physical activity by itself does not remove potential barriers to their child being active (e.g., providing transportation to an activity, learning new skills).

Custom dyad analyses using accelerometer data generally showed significant associations for MVPA and sedentary behaviour among mother-daughter dyads, and for MVPA among father-son dyads. Custom dyad analyses on measures of fitness also show significant associations between parents and children for cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and flexibility. Correlation analyses indicate that the relationship is stronger in:

  • Father-daughter pairs for cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength;

  • Father-son pairs for muscular strength and flexibility; and.

  • Mother-son pairs for muscular strength and flexibility.

Collectively the results for the CHMS show that while number of siblings and single- versus two-parent households are not generally associated with 24-h movement behaviours, the behaviours (physical activity and screen-time) and characteritsics (physical fitness) of parents are associated with the behaviours and characteristics of their children. These findings align with those found in the various reviews described above where parental role modelling was consistently found to be an important correlate of children’s 24-h movement behaviours.

Stakeholder survey results and subsequent modifications

Sixty-seven stakeholders responded to the survey in the 4 days it was live. The sample consisted of a wide mix of sectors, yet a particularly large concentration of researchers (6 nongovernment organizations, 1 family support, 10 education, 1 recreation, 2 childcare, 2 healthcare, 5 public health, 32 research, 5 government, 3 other). Further, stakeholders were from Alberta (n = 9), British Columbia (n = 18), Nunavut (n = 1), Ontario (n = 18), Prince Edward Island (n = 1), Quebec (n = 4), Saskatchewan (n = 1), and outside of Canada (n = 18).

Overall, stakeholders agreed with the Consensus Statement. Specifically, 78% of the sample thought the title was clearly stated, 96% indicated the summary was clearly stated, 82% of the sample reported they would use the Consensus Statement, 99% of the sample thought the evidence for the statement was clearly stated, 76% indicated the conceptual model was clearly presented, and 95% of the sample reported the recommendations were clearly stated. Overall, 88% of the sample reported that the Consensus Statement would be (very to moderately) important to their work, while only one stakeholder reported that it would not be important.

The survey respondents were engaged and provided many comments and suggestions. Most comments were minor editorial suggestions (which were made) or compliments. As noted above, the level of agreement was very high. Nevertheless, a few clusters of suggestions emerged, albeit from a small minority of respondents. First, there was some concern about the title – that it was unclear (n = 6) or confusing (n = 3). Changes were made to address these concerns. Second, there were several small suggestions about the conceptual model, and these were also incorporated in revisions. Third, four respondents commented that there was too much responsibility placed on the family, however this was before they reached the portion of the survey that dealt with the other sources of influence on the family (e.g., schools, community, health care, government). Nevertheless, additional clarification was added to improve clarity that although the Consensus Statement is focussed on the role of the family, the Statement also speaks to the importance of those who influence and can support families. Finally, two respondents suggested that a review be completed to ensure inclusive language, particularly with respect to children with a disability. This was also completed and revisions made accordingly.

Final Consensus Statement, conceptual model, release, and evaluation plans

After meeting to discuss the findings of the six reviews and the custom analyses, performing multiple rounds of reviews and revisions, and incorporation of feedback through the stakeholder survey, the Expert Panel reached consensus on the final Consensus Statement on the Role of the Family in the Physical Activity, Sedentary, and Sleep Behaviours of Children and Youth. The Consensus Statement itself is a concise, public-facing, authoritative consolidation of research evidence. The statement includes brief background text, summary of the process, key summary points and sources of the aggregated evidence, a conceptual model consolidating the scope of the findings, followed by concise recommendations to anticipated audiences (e.g., family members, educators, health professionals, government, researchers). The Consensus Statement concludes with key support resources, acknowledgements and references. It was designed to be a foundation of credible evidence from which programs, strategies, campaigns, policies and practices can be initiated and supported. The Consensus Statement as a knowledge product within the 2020 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth [85] was released on June 16, 2020. The final Consensus Statement can be found in Fig. 2 (see also: The Consensus Statement is also available in French at

Fig. 2
figure 2

Consensus Statement on the Role of the Family in the Physical Activity, Sedentary, and Sleep Behaviours of Children and Youth. Document can be found at:

To maximize the impact of the Consensus Statement, a public relations and dissemination plan was developed and led by ParticipACTION. The release of the Consensus Statement benefited greatly from the proactive distribution, public relations and media strategy prepared to maximize and optimize the reach and impact of the release of the ParticipACTION Report Card. Through the Report Card, the Consensus Statement reached relevant stakeholders (approximately 50,000 educators, health professionals, government, media, and researchers) across Canada. The general public (expectation of more than 300,000 Canadians) were reached directly through public-facing communications and social channels and indirectly through the media.

To ensure targeted reach to the specific audiences highlighted in the Consensus Statement, it was further shared by the networks of the Expert Panel members and their affiliated organizations. Specific findings were shared via ParticipACTION’s and other partnering individuals’/organizations’ social media channels (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs). Press releases and communications with partnering organizations’ networks also took place on the day of release. An evaluation of the Consensus Statement release will occur as part of the larger, more comprehensive Report Card evaluation plan, including tracking of distribution, media impressions, hits and quality, website traffic and site visits, social media reach, and engagement among users. Surveys with Report Card users and debrief meetings with ParticipACTION’s strategic partners and Expert Panel members will provide further important insights.


A comprehensive process was initiated in Canada to develop and release a Consensus Statement on the Role of the Family in the Physical Activity, Sedentary, and Sleep Behaviours of Children and Youth to consolidate related evidence, highlight key considerations, and provide recommendations to families and other related networks on how to support regular healthy movement behaviours as outlined by the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth [1, 2]. Triangulated evidence was obtained from six reviews, analyses from Statistics Canada’s CHMS, and feedback and insights by Expert Panel members and those who responded to the stakeholder survey. This process culminated in the Consensus Statement (Fig. 2), the development of a conceptual model, a discussion of the key take-away messages, and concluded with the identification of critical gaps in current knowledge that form recommendations for future research.

An explanation and substantiation for the final content of the Consensus Statement is provided below. First, the summary statement deliberately situates the family as the proximal micro-system of child influence, following the work of Bronfenbrenner [209] that was outlined in the family systems review (review #4). It subsequently provides several descriptors of how a family may support child and youth movement behaviours to acknowledge the complex assortment of behaviours and practices found within the reviews on the correlates of parental support, and family characteristics and children and youth’s physical activity, sedentary, and sleep behaviours. This information was directly informed by the review of family support correlates (review #5) and indirectly based on reviews #1–3 and review #6.

The Background section of the Consensus Statement highlights the importance of child and youth movement behaviours, noted from past evidence that formed the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth [1, 2], augmented by contemporary epidemiological evidence from our custom analyses from Statistics Canada, and supported by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child [240] and the Canadian Children’s Charter [241]. Given that movement behaviours are socioecological in scope [242], the background section concludes with a more fulsome statement about the multiple sources of influence that shape child and youth movement behaviours to inform readers that family is but one important system among these core elements, as evidenced from all of our reviews, the stakeholder survey feedback, and input from the Expert Panel.

The process that was used to achieve the Consensus Statement, noted in the Methods section of this paper, is summarized for readers to provide the background for how we arrived at our conclusions and recommendations. This included the funding sources, reviews undertaken, the formation of the national Expert Panel, custom analyses, and stakeholder consultation process and tied release to the 2020 ParticipACTION Report Card. Finally, we note that the applicability of the Consensus Statement is meant to be broad and inclusive of children and youth of all gender/sex, ethnicities, and family socioeconomic status.

The Consensus Statement follows with a series of key evidence statements to stakeholders that broadly outline the importance of movement behaviours to child and youth health, and the role of the family, based on the evidence acquired through the process used to generate the statement. These points were not meant to be exhaustive; rather, they represent highlights of key takeaways from the reviews, analyses, and discussions of Expert Panel members that have the most evidence at present and also resonate with the Consensus Statement and recommendations to ensure cohesiveness of the document. These include:

  • parental emotional support, physical activity modelling, parental knowledge/beliefs about physical activity, and various sociodemographic factors are related to children’s physical activity;

  • parental modelling (physical activity and screen-time) and family expectations (rules) were important for limiting children and youth’s sedentary behaviour and screen-time;

  • healthy expectations such as setting bedtime routines and having device-free bedrooms and good family functioning were important for helping children and youth acquire sufficient sleep; and,

  • the entire family system is an important source of influence and subsequent promotion of healthy child and youth behaviours.

To relieve the word-heavy approach in the Consensus Statement and add visual representation of the findings from our process, the Expert Panel developed a conceptual diagram that highlights how we situate family influence on child and youth movement behaviours (Fig. 3). The figure was developed from the findings of all six reviews, the CHMS analyses, as well as input from the Expert Panel, and the stakeholder survey feedback. Through a Venn diagram, the illustration portrays physical activity, sedentary, and sleep behaviours as integrated, commensurate with the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth [1], but also recognizing their unique variation that may require targeted attention. A series of concentric circles were used to situate family as a proximal source of influence, while allowing readers to quickly see that there are many sources and settings that influence child and youth movement behaviours beyond the family [209, 243, 244]. We positioned the types of influence (i.e., parenting practices, parent preferences and characteristics, parenting styles) as immediate to child and youth movement behaviours to denote the key mediators of action and then highlight core family systems constructs (i.e., family functioning, family structure, family members as stakeholders) as the likely sources of those types of influence. Finally, we acknowledge key additional influences (i.e., family demographics, community, policies and media, additional social influences) on family and subsequent child and youth movement behaviours in the outer concentric circle.

Fig. 3
figure 3

Conceptual model illustrating the relationships linking family and the physical activity, sedentary and sleep behaviours of children and youth, within a socioecological context

In the Consensus Statement, we dedicated considerable space to recommendations, subdivided by key stakeholders, because the ultimate purpose of the Consensus Statement is to act as an actionable document. Consideration was given to each potential group of stakeholders and recommendations were themed accordingly. These included family – broadly defined to incorporate the many structures and roles that encompass a family [245], educators, researchers, practitioners, service providers, and governments at all levels. Recommendations were evidence-based from the results of our reviews as well as discussion points among the Expert Panel and recommendations generated through the stakeholder survey. For example, for family, these included recommendations to model, facilitate, and encourage their children and youth to meet the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines [1] by creating routines, plans, priorities, and expectations. Co-activities were encouraged for physical activity and screen-time to monitor and socialize as a family. For all movement behaviours, we included a series of specific tactics that may be useful for families to assist in limiting screen viewing hours of children and youth based on the literature reviewed in our process of generating the Consensus Statement. A similar process for generating recommendations was followed for all other stakeholders.

The Consensus Statement was created to inform and activate stakeholders to promote healthy child and youth movement behaviours. In doing so, we were mindful of its length and the important balance between building an evidence-based document and an authoritative and thorough resource. Thus, to conclude the Consensus Statement we included a series of additional resource links and references for end-users to continue learning about the evidence used to build the document and other excellent sources of information related to the themes raised within the statement.

While the process we undertook to develop the Consensus Statement identified considerable evidence to substantiate the statement, it also demonstrated there are several aspects of family and child and youth movement behaviours where there are still gaps in the research literature. For example, a very recent systematic review (n = 23 studies, 1982–2019) which examined whether interventions with a parent/other adult caregiver component resulted in children being more physically active, reported little to no impact on children’s activity levels [246]. The most commonly reported intervention techniques were those aimed at shaping participants’ knowledge, such as providing instruction about how to perform a behaviour. However, the majority of included papers were of low or very low quality, and therefore, caution should be taken when interpreting the findings (uncertainty of the results). Accordingly, research priorities are noted below:

  • Despite existing adaptations of Family Systems Theory for child and youth health behaviour in the form of schematics, only two trials [215, 216] focused on child physical activity and screen-time reduction, have been conducted. Clearly, this represents a paucity of research utilizing family systems to change behaviours of the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth [1, 2].

  • While parental practices in relation to child and youth movement behaviours has been linked to subsequent child and youth behaviour, current research highlights the paucity in our understanding of parental practices related to sleep and restriction of sedentary behaviour. More research on the antecedents of parental practices is needed.

  • Parental practices and support of all movement behaviours would be better understood with a greater focus on social (e.g., norms, network, support) and environmental (e.g., home, community, policy) correlates of support in conjunction with individual factors. Such evidence is required.

  • Almost all of the current evidence-base on family support of child movement behaviours is focused on parents, and much of this is exclusive to mothers. Family functioning (e.g., cohesion, entropy, chaos), structural arrangement supports (e.g., divorced shared parenting, single parenting) and overall family stakeholders (e.g., fathers, extended family, siblings) would assist in understanding the relative contributions of family influence.

  • Research of family-based interventions for physical activity has improved over the last decade, yet family interventions on child and youth sleep and sedentary behaviour are limited. Primary research focussed on interventions to improve sedentary behaviours and sleep are still required in order to generate evidence-based recommendations.

  • Interventions targeting a single movement behaviour are helpful, but we also recommend an examination of overflow effects on other non-targeted movement behaviours (e.g., does a family physical activity intervention result in better sleep practices?).

  • Family intervention comparisons between integrated 24-h healthy movement behaviour approaches compared to isolated individual movement behaviour approaches will be a helpful future research direction to determine the best practice of (e.g., sequencing) behaviour change.

  • Determining the best knowledge translation and mobilization techniques to increase stakeholder’s awareness, knowledge, understanding, and implementation of recommended amounts of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, screen-time and sleep is needed.

This initiative was undertaken by a large interdisciplinary team of researchers, clinicians, policy experts, public health professionals, and front-line family service providers. Though we sought international representation for the Expert Panel, our final composition lacked an international perspective. The undertaking of multiple literature reviews and custom national data analyses combined with ongoing expert consultation, was a significant strength of this project. The findings of this work have the potential to inform future contributions to the child health literature, care, and practice. With the pragmatic use of literature searches and scoping reviews rather than systematic reviews being carried out, data quality, full synthesis of findings, and risk of bias were not always considered. This choice was acknowledged as a limitation by the group, but all evidence for the development of the Consensus Statement was searched systematically and rigorously. The triangulation of evidence from multiple sources reinforced our confidence in the final Consensus Statement. Nevertheless, there are limitations to any large consensus building approach to develop similar public-facing documents. From this experience and others [1, 2, 65,66,67,68,69, 76] we recommend that special attention be given to inherent time and resource limitations that invariably constrain timelines and evidence quantity and quality. These realities can create conflict between research standards and knowledge translation needs and demands. In our case, these constraints precluded the lengthy preparation and publication process of systematic reviews (inclusive of review registration and quality assessment in some cases), as each one would have required 6 months or more to have this component achieved before the reviews were discussed among the Expert Panel. It also meant a much smaller window for the stakeholder survey than desirable. Our strengths, on the other hand, included a full series of consensus rounds for the final statement and the process manuscript for all panel members and a large amount of evidence (six reviews, national data, stakeholder survey, discussion time at two occasions among the panel) to make an evidence-based statement.


In summary, there is broad triangulation support from the published literature, current nationally representative data, the Expert Panel, and the stakeholders consulted to support the Consensus Statement on the Role of the Family in the Physical Activity, Sedentary, and Sleep Behaviours of Children and Youth. This Consensus Statement is intended to facilitate a positive focus on the importance of key practices, policies, and societal actions to promote healthy child and youth growth and development through the integrated 24-h movement behaviours. The release of the Consensus Statement will benefit greatly from the proactive distribution, public relations and media strategy prepared to maximize the reach and impact of the release of the ParticipACTION Report Card. Through this, it is anticipated that the Consensus Statement will reach relevant government and non-government organizations whose work impacts child and youth movement behaviours across Canada and globally. Parents, educators, practitioners, service providers, lawmakers, and government will also be reached through public-facing communications channels (e.g., social media, blog, website) of ParticipACTION and collaborating organizations.