Associations between objectively measured habitual physical activity and adiposity in children and adolescents: Systematic review

Int J Pediatr Obes. 2010;5(1):3-18. doi: 10.3109/17477160903067601.


This review examined recent evidence on associations between objectively measured habitual physical activity and adiposity. A search for observational studies was carried out using several electronic databases from June 2004-June 2008. Of 1 255 potentially eligible papers, 47 papers were included, which described 48 studies. Most studies (41/48; 85%) were cross-sectional and 31/48 (65%) used proxies for adiposity, such as body mass index (BMI) or BMI z-score as the outcome measure. Few studies (10%; 5/48) focused on pre-school children. There was consistent evidence of negative associations between objectively measured physical activity and adiposity: significant negative associations were observed in 38/48 (79%) of studies overall. The present review supports the hypothesis that higher levels of habitual physical activity are protective against child and adolescent obesity. However, prospective longitudinal studies are warranted; there is a need for more research on younger children, and for more 'dose-response' evidence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Habits*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Sedentary Behavior