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Longitudinal Study of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Children

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Laura BasterfieldORCiD, Professor Ashley AdamsonORCiD, Jessica Frary, Dr Kathryn Parkinson, Professor Mark PearceORCiD, Jessica Reilly


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OBJECTIVE: Physical activity is thought to decline during childhood, but the extent of the decline is unknown. We made objective measures of 2-year changes in physical activity and sedentary behavior in English children who participated in the Gateshead Millennium Study to explore the nature, timing, and extent of changes in physical activity and sedentary behavior before adolescence. METHODS: We conducted a longitudinal study of 405 children (207 girls), aged 7 years, in 2006/2007 and again 24 months later. Physical activity and sedentary behavior were measured with the Actigraph GT1M accelerometer. Data were analyzed in 2010. Changes in total volume of physical activity (accelerometer counts per minute [cpm]), moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA), and sedentary behavior were quantified. Factors associated with changes in physical activity and sedentary behavior were tested by using linear regression. Tracking of physical activity and sedentary behavior over the 2-year period was assessed by rank-order correlation. RESULTS: Mean daily volume of physical activity declined by 83 cpm (interquartile range [IQR]: -189 to 31) over 2 years; the percentage of daily time spent in MVPA was low at baseline and declined by 0.3% (IQR: -1.4 to 0.9). The percentage of daily time in sedentary behavior was high at baseline and increased from 78.0% to 81.1% of the day (change 3.1% [IQR: -0.3 to 6.0]). The decline in MVPA and increase in sedentary behavior were significantly greater in girls and in those with higher BMI z scores at baseline. Physical activity and sedentary behavior showed moderate tracking over the 2-year period. CONCLUSIONS: We report here new evidence of low and declining levels of physical activity and MVPA and increasing sedentary behavior before adolescence. Pediatrics 2011;127:e24-e30

Publication metadata

Author(s): Basterfield L, Adamson AJ, Frary JK, Parkinson KN, Pearce MS, Reilly JJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Pediatrics

Year: 2011

Volume: 127

Issue: 1

Pages: e24-e30

Print publication date: 01/01/2011

ISSN (print): 0031-4005

ISSN (electronic): 1098-4275

Publisher: American Academy of Pediatrics


DOI: 10.1542/peds.2010-1935


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Funder referenceFunder name
Diabetes UK
English Department of Health
Gateshead Education Authority
Henry Smith Charity
Sport Aiding Medical Research for Kids
Welsh Assembly Government
British Heart Foundation
Cancer Research UK
Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorate
Economic and Social Research Council
Food Standards Agency
Gateshead Health National Health Service Foundation Trust
Gateshead PCT
Medical Research Council
Research and Development Office for the Northern Ireland Health and Social Services
World Cancer Research Fund
CZH/4/484Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office