Interventions for the Whole Family Get Kids Moving

A family plays baseball in their yardThe Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) recommends family-based interventions to increase physical activity among children. This finding is based on a systematic review of evidence that showed modest increases in physical activity among children.

What are Family-Based Interventions?

Family-based interventions actively engage families by combining activities with health education to build family support. Programs include a combination of the following:

  • Goal-setting
  • Reinforced positive health behaviors
  • Organized physical activity

Programs may also provide information about other lifestyle behaviors, such as screen time or nutrition. A variety of facilitators, including community leaders or staff specializing in physical education, may deliver the intervention.

Some studies in this review showed that goal-setting helped parents prioritize and plan for physical activity. In addition, reinforcement practices, such as weekly telephone calls about progress, encouraged more engagement and increased motivation. Interventions that focused on additional benefits such as those associated with scheduling time together as a family, parents engaging in play with children, or spending time outdoors also increased physical activity.

Why Is This Recommendation Important?

Children and adolescents should be physically active for 1 or more hours every day (HHS 2008). In 2015, less than 30% of adolescents in the U.S. met this target (CDC 2017). Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence improves strength and endurance, helps build healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, reduces anxiety and stress, increases self-esteem, and may improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels (HHS 2008a).

What are the Task Force and The Community Guide?

  • The Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) is an independent, nonfederal, panel of public health and prevention experts whose members are appointed by the director of CDC. The Task Force provides information for a wide range of decision makers on programs, services, and other interventions aimed at improving population health. The Task Force was established in 1996 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Although CDC provides administrative, scientific, and technical support for the Task Force, the recommendations developed are those of the Task Force and do not undergo review or approval by CDC.
  • The Community Guide is a collection of all the evidence-based findings and recommendations of The Community Preventive Services Task Force.

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