Objective: This study was designed to validate accelerometer-based activity monitors against energy expenditure (EE) in children; to compare monitor placement sites; to field-test the monitors; and to establish sedentary, light, moderate, and vigorous threshold counts.
Research methods and procedures: Computer Science and Applications Actigraph (CSA) and Mini-Mitter Actiwatch (MM) monitors, on the hip or lower leg, were validated and calibrated against 6-hour EE measurements by room respiration calorimetry, activity by microwave detector, and heart rate by telemetry in 26 children, 6 to 16 years old. During the 6 hours, the children performed structured activities, including resting metabolic rate (RMR), Nintendo, arts and crafts, aerobic warm-up, Tae Bo, treadmill walking and running, and games. Activity energy expenditure (AEE) computed as EE - RMR was regressed against counts to derive threshold counts.
Results: The mean correlations between EE or AEE and counts were slightly higher for MM-hip (r = 0.78 +/- 0.06) and MM-leg (r = 0.80 +/- 0.05) than CSA-hip (r = 0.66 +/- 0.08) and CSA-leg (r = 0.73 +/- 0.07). CSA and MM performed similarly on the hip (inter-instrument r = 0.88) and on the lower leg (inter-instrument r = 0.89). Threshold counts for the CSA-hip were <800, <3200, <8200, and > or = 8200 for sedentary, light, moderate, and vigorous categories, respectively. For the MM-hip, the threshold counts were <100, <900, <2200, and > or = 2200, respectively.
Discussion: The validation of the CSA and MM monitors against AEE and their calibration for sedentary, light, moderate, and vigorous thresholds certify these monitors as valid, useful devices for the assessment of physical activity in children.