Neighborhood and Family Characteristics Associated with Adiposity and Physical Activity Engagement among Preschoolers in a Small Rural Community

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The purpose of this study was to evaluate family and home/neighborhood characteristics associated with physical activity (PA) and adiposity among young children living in a small rural community. Methods: Participants were 30 parents and their youngest child aged 2–5 years. Children wore accelerometers for 7 days. Parents completed questionnaires about family lifestyle behaviors, parenting practices, and home/neighborhood characteristics. Results: None of the family lifestyle behaviors were associated with child BMI percentile. Backyard size was inversely associated with moderate to vigorous physical activity on weekday afternoons (rho = −0.488, p = 0.006), as was perception of neighborhood dangers (rho = −0.388, p = 0.034). Perceived neighborhood safety (rho = 0.453, p = 0.012), the presence of sidewalks (rho = 0.499, p = 0.012), and public playground use (rho = 0.406, p = 0.026) were each associated with higher weekday afternoon MVPA. Conclusions: Findings suggest neighborhood safety, sidewalks, and use of public playgrounds are positively associated with MVPA among preschoolers, while backyard size and access to play equipment at home are not. These findings have implications for rural communities where space is plentiful but access to community space and sidewalks may be limited.