The association between an objective measure of physical activity and weight status in preschoolers

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Mar;15(3):686-94. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.571.


Objective: Our objective was to determine the association between physical activity and BMI among racially diverse low-income preschoolers.

Research methods and procedures: This was a cross-sectional study of 2- to 5-year-olds (n = 56) enrolled in Massachusetts Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC). Physical activity was measured for 7 consecutive days with an accelerometer. Height and weight were obtained from WIC records, and BMI-for-age percentiles were calculated based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2000 Growth Charts. At-risk-for-overweight (BMI-for-age of > or = 85th to < 95th percentile) and overweight (BMI-for-age > or = 95th percentile) groups were combined and referred to as overweight. Final analysis inclusion criteria were: completion of 4.5 days of activity assessment and anthropometric data obtained within 90 and 120 days of the activity assessment for children ages 24 to 35.99 and 36 to 59.99 months, respectively.

Results: Overweight children had significantly lower mean daily very vigorous minutes (VVM) (2.6 mins vs. 4.6 mins, p < 0.05) and lower very active minutes (VAM) [i.e., sum of vigorous minutes (VM) and VVM] per day (22.9 mins vs. 32.1 mins, p < 0.05) than children who were not overweight. Daily VVM [odds ratio (OR) = 0.68; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.49 to 0.96], VM (OR = 0.94; CI, 0.88 to 1.00), and VAM (OR = 0.94; 95% CI, 0.89 to 1.00) were all associated with significantly lower odds of being overweight.

Discussion: This study suggests that, in a diverse group of preschoolers, vigorous and very vigorous activity are associated with lower odds of overweight. However, these findings require corroboration in a diverse sample of preschoolers using a longitudinal design.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Overweight / ethnology