The physical activity transition among adults in China: 1991-2011

Obes Rev. 2014 Jan;15 Suppl 1(0 1):27-36. doi: 10.1111/obr.12127.


Previous studies have linked work, home production, travel activities and inactivity with weight and health outcomes. However, these focused on average physical activity (PA) over time rather than changes in PA and associated sociodemographic and economic factors and urbanicity. Using the 1991-2011 China Health and Nutrition Survey data, we estimated the metabolic equivalent of task hours per week for individuals in occupational, domestic, travel and active leisure domains and sedentary hours per week. We present the distributions among adult men and women (aged 18-60), and use quantile regression models to explore factors associated with these trends. Trend analyses on the distribution of PA show declines along the whole distribution of occupational PA for men and women and domestic PA for women in China. These patterns remain consistent after adjusting for individual- and household-level factors. Controlling for urbanicity mitigated the decrease in occupational PA, particularly for men, but not the decrease in domestic PA. Given China's rapid urbanization and its association with occupational PA declines and the strong time trend in domestic PA, there is a need to invest in interventions and policies that promote PA during leisure and travel times.

Keywords: China; Physical activity; distribution; quantile regression.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Transition*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Population Surveillance
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urbanization
  • Work / statistics & numerical data
  • Work / trends*