Health risks, correlates, and interventions to reduce sedentary behavior in young people

Am J Prev Med. 2011 Aug;41(2):197-206. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.05.001.


Context: Opportunities for young people to be sedentary have increased during leisure time, study time, and transportation time.

Purpose: This review paper focuses on sedentary behaviors among young people aged 2-18 years and includes evidence of the relationship between sedentary behavior and health risk indicators, an overview of public health recommendations, the prevalence of key sedentary behaviors, evidence of correlates of sedentary behavior and the effectiveness of interventions to reduce sedentary behaviors.

Evidence acquisition: Although this is a narrative style review and not systematic, where possible, findings from relevant review papers were summarized and a search of more recent literature was performed using computer-based databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, ERIC, PsycINFO, Social Science Index, SportDiscus, and Health Reference Center - Academic.

Evidence synthesis: Young people spend 2-4 hours per day in screen-based behaviors and 5-10 hours per day sedentary. Ethnicity, sociodemographic status, having a TV set in the bedroom, and parental behavior appear to be the most consistent correlates of TV viewing time; however, few recent studies aiming to reduce TV viewing or sedentary time among young people have been successful.

Conclusions: A growing body of evidence supports the development of public health recommendations to limit the time spent in screen-based behaviors. More research is needed to examine the prospective and experimental evidence of associations between overall sedentary time and health, determinants of sedentary behaviors other than screen-based behaviors, and interventions to reduce overall sedentary time or even alternative sedentary behaviors, such as transport- or education-related sitting time.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Television
  • Time Factors