Limitations on the Use of a Single Screening Question to Measure Sedentary Behavior

Am J Public Health. 2001 Dec;91(12):2010-2. doi: 10.2105/ajph.91.12.2010.


Objectives: This study explored the limitations of identifying sedentary individuals via an existing screening question in a state-based surveillance system.

Methods: A national sample (n = 7529) of adults, selected by random-digit dialing between November 1999 and May 2000, responded about participation in leisure-time physical activity.

Results: Of those who initially reported no leisure-time physical activity (25%), 85% were engaging in at least some activity, and 20% were engaging in enough moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity to meet health-related recommendations.

Conclusions: Public health programs that use only 1 screening question to identify sedentary behavior may not be able to target physical activity messages effectively, especially if physical activity is defined to include a broad range of activities beyond sports.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening* / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • United States / epidemiology