Changes in sedentary behavior among adolescent girls: a 2.5-year prospective cohort study

J Adolesc Health. 2007 Feb;40(2):158-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.09.009. Epub 2006 Nov 29.


Purpose: To describe longitudinal changes in leisure-time sedentary behavior among girls, during early to mid-adolescence.

Methods: A 2.5-year prospective cohort study, comprising 5 data collections, 6 months apart, between 2000 and 2002. Girls aged 12-15 years (n = 200) from 8 high schools located in Sydney, Australia, self-reported the usual time spent each week in a comprehensive range of sedentary behaviors.

Results: Retention rate for the study was 82%. Girls aged 12.8 years spent approximately 45% of their discretionary time in sedentary behavior, which increased to 63% at age 14.9 years. Watching TV, videos, and playing video games (small screen recreation; SSR) was the most popular sedentary pastime, accounting for 33% of time spent in sedentariness, followed by homework and reading (25%). Sedentary behavior increased 1.4 and 3.3 hours on week and weekend days, respectively. On weekdays, increased time was spent on hobbies (27 min/day) and on weekend days, increased time was spent sitting around talking with friends (60 min/day), computer use (37 min/day), and television viewing (34 min/day).

Conclusions: Among girls, the transition between early and mid-adolescence was accompanied by a significant increase in leisure-time sedentary behavior. Interventions to reduce sedentariness among adolescent girls are best to focus on weekend behaviors. Studies seeking to examine the association between inactivity and the development of chronic health problems need to examine a diverse range of activities that comprehensively measure sedentariness. This information will provide a better understanding of inactivity patterns among adolescent girls.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Child
  • Computers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Motion Pictures
  • New South Wales
  • Play and Playthings
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reading
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone
  • Television
  • Video Games