Resemblance in accelerometer-assessed physical activity in families with children: the Lolland-Falster Health Study

Therese Lockenwitz Petersen*, Jan Christian Brønd, Peter Lund Kristensen, Eivind Aadland, Anders Grøntved, Randi Jepsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Evidence of intra-family resemblance in physical activity (PA) is lacking. The association between parent and child PA appears weak, the influence of age and gender on this association is uncertain, and no studies have investigated the degree of resemblance in family members’ PA behaviours such as walking, sitting/lying, and biking. Thus, the aims of the study were to examine the degree of resemblance in PA within families, specifically between parents and children, and to explore the size of resemblance across age of children, gender of parents and children, and intensity and type of PA. Method: The study is a cross-sectional analysis of a subsample (902 parents and 935 children nested within 605 families) of the Danish population study Lolland-Falster Health Study. PA was measured using a dual-accelerometer system (Axivity AX3) with subsequent processing of time spent in light PA (LPA), moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), and vigorous PA and classification of PA behaviour types. Families with at least one son/daughter aged 0–22 years and one parent providing minimum 4 days of valid accelerometer data were included in the analysis. A linear mixed model regression analysis was used to determine the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) of clustering among family members for PA intensities and PA behaviours, adjusted for sex, age, parental education, and the interaction between sex and age. Results: In the analysis of within-family variation in PA, the ICCs across PA intensities and PA behaviours ranged from 0.06 to 0.34. We found stronger clustering in family members’ PA for LPA and behaviours requiring low energy expenditure (LPA: ICC 0.22 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.17; 0.28), sitting/lying: ICC 0.34 (95% CI 0.28; 0.40)), and walking: ICC 0.24 (95% CI 0.19; 0.30) than for higher intensities (e.g. MVPA: ICC 0.07 (95% CI 0.03; 0.14)). The ICC for biking was 0.23 (95% CI 0.18; 0.29). Analyses on parent-child dyads gave similar results. No interaction effects for gender and age (except for biking) were found. Conclusion: Parents and children’s time spent in PA behaviours requiring low energy expenditure had moderate resemblance within families, whereas engagement in PA with higher intensities showed small or close-to-zero resemblance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number161
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 4. Dec 2020


  • Accelerometer
  • Children
  • Clustering
  • Denmark
  • Family
  • Lolland-Falster Health Study
  • Parent-child dyads
  • Parents
  • Physical activity


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