Physical Activity Questionnaire for children and adolescents: English norms and cut-off points

Pediatr Int. 2013 Aug;55(4):498-507. doi: 10.1111/ped.12092. Epub 2013 Jun 10.


Background: The Physical Activity Questionnaire for Children and Adolescents (PAQ-C/-A) provides general estimates of physical activity levels. Following recent expert recommendations for using the PAQ for population surveillance, the aim of this paper was twofold: first, to describe normative PAQ data for English youth; and second, to determine a criterion-referenced PAQ-score cut-off point.

Methods: Participants (n = 7226, 53% boys, 10-15 years) completed an anglicized version of the PAQ. Peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak ) was predicted from PACER lap count according to latest FITNESSGRAM standards and categorized into "at-risk" and "no-risk" for metabolic syndrome. ROC curves were drawn for each age-sex group to identify PAQ scores, which categorized youth into "sufficiently active" versus "low-active" groups, using cardiorespiratory fitness as the criterion-referenced standard.

Results: PAQ scores were higher in boys than in girls and declined with age. Mean PAQ score was a significant, albeit relatively weak (area under the curve < 0.7) discriminator between "at-risk" and "no-risk." PAQ scores of ≥2.9 for boys and ≥2.7 for girls were identified as cut-off points, although it may be more appropriate to use lower, age-specific PAQ scores for girls of 13, 14 and 15 years (2.6, 2.4, 2.3, respectively).

Conclusion: The normative and criterion-referenced PAQ values may be used to standardize and categorize PAQ scores in future youth population studies.

Keywords: cardiorespiratory fitness; child; physical activity; questionnaires; receiver-operator curve.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • ROC Curve
  • Reference Standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*