Aim To evaluate the impact of predictors of adopting a healthy lifestyle in Swedish schoolchildren. Methods A sample of 1409 Swedish schoolchildren (mean age 12.5 years) representative of different socio-economic and geographical living areas participated in a questionnaire-based survey on healthy habits and knowledge of healthy behaviour. A logistic regression analysis was performed to identify intrapersonal, social and environmental predictors of healthy habits.
Results A normal body mass index (intrapersonal determinant) was connected to refraining from tobacco (P<0.05). For children to perceive family (P<0.001), themselves (P<0.001), or someone else (P<0.01) as a source of inspiration (social determinant) to be physically active was related to a high physical activity level. Paternal (P=0.01) and maternal (P<0.001) attention to the use of tobacco (social determinant) was of importance for children to refrain from such habits. To live in a socio-economically wealthy area (environmental determinant) was of importance for healthy food choices (P<0.01) and physical activity (P<0.05). Children from rural (P<0.01) areas (environmental determinant) were more physically active than children from urban areas.
Conclusion Social aspects such as parental support for physical activity and refraining from tobacco were found to be important for healthy behaviours. Moreover, environmental factors such as socio-economic and geographical living area favourably influenced food choices and physical activity. Parental attitudes and economy are therefore important for physical activity, healthy food choices and refraining from tobacco in children. Consequently, future interventions need to address the psychological and environmental influences of the home environment through the active involvement of parents, even in school-based interventions.