Introduction: Sedentary behavior and physical activity are not mutually exclusive behaviors. The relative risk of overweight for adolescents who are highly sedentary and highly physically active is unclear. A better understanding of the relationship between sedentary behaviors, physical activity, and body mass index (BMI) would provide insight for developing interventions to prevent or reduce overweight.
Methods: Using the physical activity module of the School Health Action, Planning and Evaluation System (SHAPES), we collected data from 25,060 students in grades 9 through 12 from 76 secondary schools in Ontario, Canada. Sex-specific logistic regression analyses were performed to examine how BMI, weight perceptions, social influences, team sports participation, and smoking behavior were associated with being 1) high active-high sedentary, 2) low active-low sedentary, and 3) low active-high sedentary.
Results: Low active-high sedentary boys were more likely to be overweight than high active-low sedentary boys (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01-2.58). When compared with high active-low sedentary girls, girls who were low active-high sedentary (OR, 2.24; 95% CI, 1.23-4.09) or high active-high sedentary (OR, 1.91; 95% CI, 1.01-3.61) were more likely to be overweight.
Conclusion: Sedentary behavior may moderate the relationship between physical activity and overweight. Developing a better understanding of sedentary behavior in relation to physical activity and overweight is critical for preventing and reducing overweight among youth.