Family-based interventions for reducing sedentary time in youth: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Obes Rev. 2014 Feb;15(2):117-33. doi: 10.1111/obr.12105. Epub 2013 Sep 16.


Family involvement in interventions to reduce sedentary time may help foster appropriate long-term screen-based habits in children. This review systematically synthesized evidence from randomized controlled trials of interventions with a family component that targeted reduction of sedentary time, including TV viewing, video games and computer use, in children. MEDLINE, PubMed, PsycInfo, CINAHL and Embase were searched from inception through March 2012. Seventeen articles were considered eligible and included in the review. Studies were judged to be at low-to-moderate risk of bias. Despite inconsistent study results, level of parental involvement, rather than the setting itself, appeared an important determinant of intervention success. Studies including a parental component of medium-to-high intensity were consistently associated with statistically significant changes in sedentary behaviours. Participant age was also identified as a determinant of intervention outcomes; all three studies conducted in pre-school children demonstrated significant decreases in sedentary time. Finally, TV exposure appeared to be related to changes in energy intake rather than physical activity. Future studies should assess the effects of greater parental involvement and child age on success of sedentary behaviour interventions. More research is required to better understand the relationship between screen time and health behaviours, particularly energy intake.

Keywords: Adolescents; children; screen time; sedentary behaviour.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Computers
  • Energy Intake*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Male
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Television
  • Time Factors