Scientific Publications

Scientific Publications

Three sub-studies of the Naturkraft research project have already been published. These publications answer to research questions of the associations between family´s nature visits and sociodemographic factors, parental mental well-being and children´s energy balance-related behavior (sleep and physical activity), and weight. Additionally, potential barriers for nature visits with their child has been explored.

Associations between Parent–Child Nature Visits and Sleep, Physical Activity and Weight Status

Nature visits and nature exposure have been shown to be favorably associated with children’s health and development, but the research regarding their associations with children’s lifestyle habits is limited. The current study aimed to investigate the associations between the frequency of parent–child nature visits and sleep, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and weight status among three- to six-year-old Finnish preschoolers. Parents and their children (n = 864) participated in a cross-sectional DAGIS (increased health and wellbeing in preschools) study, which was conducted between 2015 and 2016 in Finland. In total, 798 parents answered a questionnaire on the frequency of parent–child nature visits, which also included questions on sociodemographic factors and their children’s sleep habits. Parents also reported children’s bedtimes and wake-up times and children wore an accelerometer for seven days. Trained researchers measured children’s weight and height. Linear and logistic regression analyses were conducted. More frequent parent–child nature visits were associated with children’s longer sleep duration at night, higher amounts of MVPA outside preschool time and, among girls, good sleep consistency. The frequency of parent–child nature visits was not significantly associated with whether children were overweight or obese or not. Promoting parent–child nature visits could be a cost-effective way to increase young children’s MVPA and enhance night-time sleep.

Parental Mental Well-Being and Frequency of Adult-Child Nature Visits

Gustafsson J, Ojala A, Hiltunen P, Engberg E, Wiklund-Engblom A, Törnwall N, Roos E, Ray C. Parental Mental Well-Being and Frequency of Adult-Child Nature Visits: The Mediating Roles of Parents’ Perceived Barriers. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021; 18(13), 6814.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18136814.

Abstract: Regular access to green space has been shown to provide several health benefits for children. However, children today spend less time outdoors. Thus, it has become important to understand what drives and limits children’s activities in nature. Based on a Finnish online survey of 1463 parents of children aged 2–7 conducted in 2019, the current study examined parents’ perceived barriers to visiting nature with their children. It also examined how parental mental well-being is related to families’ frequency of nature visits, and whether this association is mediated by different categories of parents’ perceived barriers. Eleven out of 12 barriers were largely perceived by parents as reasons that did not prevent them from visiting nature with their children. Next, factor analysis indicated a three-factor solution to the barriers. The results of a multiple mediation analysis showed that better parental mental well-being was associated with more frequent adult-child nature visits, and this relationship was partially mediated by a “lack of competence and logistics” and a “lack of time and interest”, but not by “insecurity and fear”. The results indicated that parents with poor mental well-being were more likely to perceive barriers to visiting nature, which in turn appeared to be related to a higher likelihood of having children who visited nature less frequently.

Association of sociodemographic factors with the frequency of adult-child nature visits

Kokkonen J-M, Gustafsson J, Paasio H, Wiklund-Engblom A, Törnwall N, Erkkola M, Roos E, Ray C. Sosiodemografisten tekijöiden yhteys lapsiperheiden luonnossa liikkumiseen. (Association of sociodemographic factors with the frequency of adult-child nature visits.) Liikunta & Tiede 58 (5), 109–118.

Abstract: Nature visits and green space exposure are associated with numerous health benefits in children and in adults. Nature experiences in childhood are important as they promote green exercise as an adult. Sociodemographic factors of families have been associated with frequency of nature visits and green exercise, however, the results are contradictory. The aim of this study is to explore associations between sociodemographic factors and more frequent adult-child nature visits. This study included data from three questionnaires: the cross-sectional DAGIS study collected in 2015–2016 (n = 864), the DAGIS intervention study´s baseline data collected in 2017–2018 (n = 728) and the Naturkraft (Empowered by Nature) survey collected in 2019 (n = 1463). Parents of children aged 2 to 7 were the respondents of the questionnaires. Frequency of adult-child nature visits was observed in two different groups: those who visited nature 1) at least once a week and 2) at least three times a week. Logistic regression analyses were conducted. The main results of the analyses with statistically significant variables together showed that younger children, lower educational attainment of parents, non-working mothers, better subjective financial well-being and two-parent households were associated with more frequent adult-child nature visits. In the future, it would be good to study the interrelationships of sociodemographic factors in relation to more frequent adult-child nature visits. The results of this study indicate that sociodemographic factors should be considered when planning activities to promote green exercise among families with children.