Public Health Nutrition


Family- and school-based correlates of energy balance-related behaviours in 10–12-year-old children: a systematic review within the ENERGY (EuropeaN Energy balance Research to prevent excessive weight Gain among Youth) project

Maïté Verloignea1 c1, Wendy Van Lippeveldea2, Lea Maesa2, Johannes Bruga3 and Ilse De Bourdeaudhuija1

a1 Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Watersportlaan 2, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium

a2 Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

a3 Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Objective To identify family- and school-based correlates of specific energy balance-related behaviours (physical activity, sedentary behaviour, breakfast consumption, soft drink consumption) among 10–12-year-olds, using the EnRG framework (Environmental Research framework for weight Gain prevention).

Design A literature review to identify observational studies exploring at least one family- or school-based correlate of the specific behaviours, resulting in seventy-six articles.

Setting Eighteen studies were conducted in Europe, forty-one studies in North America and seventeen studies in Australasia.

Subjects Healthy children aged 10–12 years.

Results Parental and maternal physical activity, doing physical activities with parents and parental logistic support were identified as the most important, positive correlates of physical activity. Parental rules was the most important correlate of sedentary behaviour and was inversely related to it. School socio-economic status was positively related to physical activity and inversely related to sedentary behaviour. The available studies suggested a positive relationship between soft drink availability at home and consumption. Soft drink availability and consumption at school were the most important school-based correlates of soft drink consumption. A permissive parenting style was related to more soft drink consumption and less breakfast consumption.

Conclusions An important role has been awarded to parents, suggesting parents should be involved in obesity prevention programmes. Despite the opportunities a school can offer, little research has been done to identify school-environmental correlates of energy balance-related behaviours in this age group. Obesity prevention programmes can focus on the most important correlates to maximize the effectiveness of the programme. Future research should aim at longitudinal studies.

(Received April 11 2011)

(Accepted October 27 2011)

(Online publication January 24 2012)


c1 Corresponding author: Email