To assess relationships between characteristics of the home environment and preschool children's physical activity and dietary patterns.
Homes of 280 preschool children were visited and information obtained by direct observation and parent interview regarding physical and nutritional characteristics of the home environment. Children's physical activity, sedentary behaviour and dietary patterns were measured using standardised parent-report questionnaires. Associations were analysed using analysis of variance and correlation.
Parental physical activity (p = 0.03–0.008), size of backyard (p = 0.001) and amount of outdoor play equipment (p = 0.003) were associated with more outdoor play. Fewer rules about television viewing (p < 0.001) and presence of playstation (p = 0.02) were associated with more indoor sedentary time. Higher fruit and vegetable intake was associated with restricting children's access to fruit juice (p = 0.02) and restricting high fat/sugar snacks (p = 0.009). Lower intake of non-core foods was associated with restricting children's access to fruit juice (p = 0.007), cordial/carbonated drinks (p < 0.001) and high fat/sugar snacks (p = 0.003). Lower fruit and vegetable intake was associated with reminding child to 'eat up' (p = 0.007) and offering food rewards to eat main meal (p = 0.04). Higher intake of non-core foods was associated with giving food 'treats' (p = 0.03) and offering food rewards to eat main meal (p = 0.04). The availability of food groups in the home was associated with children's intake of these foods (fruit and vegetables, p < 0.001; fat in dairy, p = <0.001; sweetened beverages, p = 0.004–<0.001; non-core foods, p = 0.01–<0.001).