Community initiatives to promote physical activity in children are common, but evidence supporting their effectiveness is limited.
The objective of this study is to examine the relationships between community programmes and policies and children's physical activity in a large and diverse sample of US communities.
Programmes and policies to promote children's physical activity were assessed in 130 communities by key informant interviews, and physical activity behaviours were measured by self-report and parental report in samples of children in each community (total n = 5138). Associations between composite indices of community programmes and policies and indicators of total and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were examined without and with adjustment for demographic factors.
An index reflecting the 6-year history of the number of behaviour change strategies used in community programmes and policies was positively associated with children's moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. This association was attenuated with adjustment for demographic factors. Effect modification analyses found that the association was positive among non-Hispanic children but was negative for Hispanic children.
Community initiatives to promote physical activity in children were positively associated with children's physical activity in non-Hispanic children. Such initiatives were negatively associated with physical activity in Hispanic children, suggesting that future research should consider unique cultural factors when designing community initiatives to promote activity in this population sub-group.