Table 1

Overview of the general characteristics examining the ecological view in the childcare settings, and findings regarding the interaction between childcare environmental factors and child characteristics
Study Sample Study type Predictors Outcome variable Associations
Environmental factors Child charac-teristics Direct environmen-tal effects Indication interaction effects Interaction effects
Boldemann et al., 2006 [29] * N = 197 Obs. 1. Physical environment: * Gender * Average step count. 1a: + Subgroup analyses * Gender:
* 4–6 y  a. Environment category (outdoors) * Assessed by pedometers 1b: 0 1a: F: 0, M: +
* 11 preschools  b. Indoor space
* Sweden 2. Political environment: * Indoors and outdoors together 2a: +
 a. Outdoor education
Cardon et al., 2008 [31] * N = 783 Obs. 1. Physical environment: * Gender * Average step count Not assessed (only subgroup analyses reported) Subgroup analyses * Gender:
1c: F: 0, M: −
* 4–5 y,  a. Aiming equipment * Assessed by pedometer 2a: F: −-, M: −
2b: F: −, M: 0
av. = 5.3 y  b. Playing equipment (3a: F: −, M: − )
* 39 preschools  c. Soft ground surface * Outdoors
* Belgium  d. Markings
 e. Vegetation
 f. Height differences
 g. Toys
2. Social environment:
 a. Children/m2
 b. Number of supervisors
3. Political environment:
 a. Recess duration
Gubbels et al., 2011 [25] * N = 175 Obs. 1. Physical environment: * Gender * Average PA intensity level 1a: + (I/O) Moderation analyses and post-hoc analyses * Gender:
2a: 0 2a (I): F: −, M: 0
 a. Sum score activity opportunities (EPAO) * Age * Assessed by observation (OSRAC-P) 2b: + (O) 2a (O): F: 0, M: +
* 2–3 y, av. = 2.6 y 2. Social environment: 2c: 0 2b (I): F: −, M: 0
* 9 childcare centers  a. PA discouraging prompts peers 2d: + (I/O) 2b(O):F: +, M: ++
* Netherlands  b. PA promoting prompts peers * Indoors (I) and outdoors (O) separately 2e: − (I/O) * Age:
2f: − (I) 2e (O): 2y: 0, 3y: −
 c. PA discouraging prompts supervisors 2f (I): 2y: −-, 3y: −
 d. PA promoting prompts supervisors
 e. Group size peers
 f. Group size supervisors
Hannon & Brown, 2008 [27] * N = 64 Int.  Physical environment * Gender * Time spent at PA intensity levels (sedentary, light, moderate, vigorous) Intervention effect: + Moderation analyses and post-hoc analyses * Age:
Moderate Activity: 3y:+++, 4y:++, 5y:+
* 3–5 y Activity-friendly playground intervention, providing children with various physical activity facilities/equipments (e.g. hurdles, hoops, tunnels, balance beams, balls) * Age
* 1 preschool * Assessed by accelerometer Vigorous Activity: 3y:+, 4y:+, 5y:++
* Outdoors
* USA
McKenzie et al., 1997 [49] * N = 287 Obs. None (outcome variable comprises both environmental characteristic (PA prompt) and physical activity) * Gender * Compliance (increasing/maintaining MVPA) to PA prompts. + (prevalence compliance to PA prompts is 89.5%) Subgroup analyses * Gender:
* av. age = 4.4 y
* 63 preschools
* USA F: ++, M: +
* Ethnicity (European-American vs. Mexican-American)
* Assessed by observation.
* Outdoors
Van Cauwenberghe et al., 2012 [53] * N = 128 Int. Physical environment * Gender * Time spent at PA intensity levels (sedentary, LMVPA, MVPA.). + Subgroup analyses * Gender:
* 4–6 y, Play space per child F: ++, M: +
av. = 5.1 y
* 4 preschools
* Belgium
* Assessed by accelerometer
* Outdoors
Zuercher & Kranz, 2012 [43] * N = 54 Int. Physical environment * Age * Dietary fiber intake + Subgroup analyses * Age:
2-3y: ++, 4-5y: +
* Assessed by plate weighing
Availability of high fiber lunch items
* 2-5 y
* 1 childcare center
* USA

+ = positive association, − = negative association, 0 = no association. ++ vs. + and -- vs. - = stronger pos/neg. association.

Abbreviations: av., Average; EPAO, Environment and Policy Assessment Observation[80]; F, Female; I, Indoor; int., Intervention study; LMVPA, Light, Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activity; M, Male; MVPA, Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity; neg., Negative; O, Outdoor; obs., Observational study; OSRAC-P, Observation System for Recording Physical Activity in Children – Preschool version[81]; PA, Physical activity; pos., Positive; y, Years old.

Gubbels et al.

Gubbels et al. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014 11:52   doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-52

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