Relationship between eating behaviors and physical activity of preschoolers and their peers: a systematic review
Ward, Stephanie Ann; Bélanger, Mathieu; Donovan, Denise; Carrier, Natalie
Abstract: Objectives: Children learn by observing and imitating others, meaning that their eating behaviors and physical activity may be influenced by their peers. This paper systematically reviews how preschoolers’ eating behaviors and physical activity relate to their peers’ behaviors, and discusses avenues for future research. Methods: Six databases were searched for quantitative, peer-reviewed studies published up to July 2015 reporting on the correlates, predictors or effectiveness of peers on eating behaviors and physical activity in preschoolers. Risk of bias was independently assessed by two evaluators using the Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies. Results: Thirteen articles were included: six measured physical activity, and seven assessed eating behaviors. Four of the six physical activity studies reported that children were more active when peers were present, while large peer group size was negatively associated with physical activity in two cross-sectional studies. All nutrition interventions reported that children’s eating behaviors may be influenced by their peers. Conclusions: Although supported by weak evidence, peers appear to influence children’s eating behaviors and physical activity. However, this influence may be moderated by the number of peers, gender, age and the perceived status of the role models. Future obesity prevention interventions should consider involving peers as agents for positive eating behaviors and physical activity in preschoolers.
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