A systematic review of the validity and reliability of sedentary behaviour measures used with children and adolescents

Obes Rev. 2011 Oct;12(10):781-99. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00896.x. Epub 2011 Jun 16.


The aim of this review was to evaluate the reliability and validity of methods used to assess the multiple components of sedentary behaviour (i.e. screen time, sitting, not moving and existing at low energy expenditure) in children and adolescents. Twenty-six studies met our inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Thirteen studies reported the reliability of self- and proxy-report measures of sedentary behaviour and seven of these were found to have acceptable test-retest reliability. Evidence for the criterion validity of self- and proxy-report measures was examined in three studies with mixed results. Seven studies examined the reliability and/or validity of direct observation and the findings were generally positive. Five studies demonstrated the utility of accelerometers to accurately classify sedentary behaviour. Self-report measures provide reliable estimates of screen time, yet their validity remains largely untested. While accelerometers can accurately classify participants' behaviour as sedentary, they do not provide information about type of sedentary behaviour or context. Studies utilizing measures of sedentary behaviour need to more adequately report on the validity and reliability of the measures used. We recommend the use of objective measures of sedentary behaviour such as accelerometers, in conjunction with subjective measures (e.g. self-report), to assess type and context of behaviour.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavioral Symptoms / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Self Report