Associations between objectively assessed physical activity and indicators of body fatness in 9- to 10-y-old European children: a population-based study from 4 distinct regions in Europe (the European Youth Heart Study)

Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Sep;80(3):584-90. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/80.3.584.


Background: The rising prevalence of obesity in children may be due to a reduction in physical activity (PA).

Objective: Our aim was to study the associations of objectively measured PA volume and its subcomponents with indicators of body fatness.

Design: A cross-sectional study of 1292 children aged 9-10 y from 4 distinct regions in Europe (Odense, Denmark; the island of Madeira, Portugal; Oslo; and Tartu, Estonia) was conducted. PA was measured by accelerometry, and indicators of body fatness were the sum of 5 skinfold thicknesses and body mass index (BMI; in kg/m(2)). We examined the associations between PA and body fatness by using general linear models adjusted for potential confounding variables.

Results: After adjustment for sex, study location, sexual maturity, birth weight, and parental BMI, time (min/d) spent at moderate and vigorous PA (P = 0.032) and time (min/d) spent at vigorous PA were significantly (P = 0.015) and independently associated with body fatness. Sex, study location, sexual maturity, birth weight, and parental BMI explained 29% (adjusted R(2) = 0.29) of the variation in body fatness. Time spent at vigorous PA explained an additional 0.5%. Children who accumulated <1 h of moderate PA/d were significantly fatter than were those who accumulated >2 h/d.

Conclusions: The accumulated amount of time spent at moderate and vigorous PA is related to body fatness in children, but this relation is weak; the explained variance was <1%.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / growth & development*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Estonia / epidemiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Portugal / epidemiology
  • Prevalence