Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Assessing the Validity of a Physical Activity Questionnaire Developed for Parents of Preschool Children in Mexico

Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Assessing the Validity of a Physical Activity Questionnaire Developed for Parents of Preschool Children in Mexico

Article excerpt


The reported prevalence of overweight and obesity among five-year old children in Mexico is 17.7% (1), and among 3-5 year old children in poor, rural Mexico, the rate is greater than 23% (2). The preschool years are identified as a period of risk for the development of obesity that may last up to adulthood (3,4). Several authors have pointed out that decreased physical activity (PA) or high levels of sedentary behaviour are contributing to an increase in childhood overweight (5,6,7,8), and that preschoolers do not meet PA recommendations (9,10).

To obtain survey data on young children's PA, it is necessary to rely on reports from parents or adult caregivers since young children are unable to accurately self-report their physical activities (11). Sets of questionnaire administered to caregivers to assess young children's usual or actual PA have added benefits: these are inexpensive, non-invasive, and less time-consuming to administer and interpret (12). Given these benefits, careful evaluation of the validity of reports based on questionnaire is merited (13).

Accelerometer is considered to be a reliable instrument for the measurement of PA in preschool children and, therefore, are used for validation of other measures, including questionnaire (14,15,16,17). Further, sedentary behaviour can be quantified using accelerometry in preschool children (18). Since children engage in very short bursts of intense PA, along with varying intervals of low and moderate intensity (19,11,20), the use of the accelerometer set at 15 seconds (15-s) increment is recommended. Several studies have used accelerometers to evaluate the validity of different types of questionnaire used for parents to assess preschoolers' PA (21,22,23,24). Harro used a daily registry of activities during working- days (21); Chen et al. assessed the frequencies and preferences of PA, using a questionnaire for teachers (22); Burdette et al. used a checklist to assess outdoor playing (23); and Janz et al. assessed preferences and choices of everyday activity (24). The ActiGraph uniaxial accelerometer has been evaluated and calibrated using 15-s data-collection increment with direct observation (15) and using a metabolic criterion measure (VO2) (25) for 3-5 year old children. However, we have found no simple tools to assess usual PA among preschool children. Little is known about the PA behaviour of preschool children in Mexico, and no questionnaire has been developed and validated for assessment of PA in Mexican preschool children. Parental perception of children's PA and the degree of understanding of the questionnaire might be determined by cultural patterns; therefore, translating a questionnaire developed for parents with different levels of education might yield inaccurate results. Designing of the culturally-appropriate questionnaire is warranted. Besides, due to the high percentage of the Mexican population with low reading and comprehension levels, a simpler tool for assessing usual PA needs to be evaluated. Thus, the aim of this study was to assess the validity of a physical activity questionnaire developed for use by parents of Mexican preschool children.



Forty-five 3-5 year old children enrolled in 3 classes in a preschool care centre in Tijuana, Mexico and their parents were recruited to participate in this cross-sectional study. Children attended the preschool care centre four hours daily, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, Monday through Friday. The study protocol and procedures for obtaining the children's assent and informed consent of their parents were reviewed and approved by the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects, University of California at Berkeley and the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects, Medical School of Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (26).


Tijuana city is at the extreme northwestern part of Mexico, and it borders the state of California, USA. …

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