A Social-Ecological Model of Youth Engagement in Physical Activity
Parkman, Thomas John
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Presently, it is estimated that 32% of U.S. youths aged 2 to 19 are overweight or obese, and 17% are obese—these rates have tripled since 1971. The decline in PA in favor of sedentary behaviors has been identified as a key driver of youth overweight and obesity in its own right. Meta-analytic reviews of extant interventions suggest that such programs result in “small to negligible” changes in youth PA levels, of which the clinical effect “is likely to be minimal”. Researchers posit that the limited efficacy of such interventions is attributable to the lack of a comprehensive, empirically supported theoretical foundation to guide treatment planning and account for mechanisms of behavior change. Calls for a social-ecological model of youth engagement in PA have long been invoked in the hopes of improving the efficacy of PA interventions; however, such an approach has yet to be evaluated. Thus, the present study aimed to address this gap and advance the literature by evaluating a social-ecological model of youth physical activity engagement utilizing secondary data from 1,661 youth and caregiver dyads drawn from the FLASHE study via structural equation modeling in Mplus.