Sedentary behavior in a cohort of 8- to 10-year-old children at elevated risk of obesity

Prev Med. 2014 Mar;60:115-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.12.029. Epub 2014 Jan 4.


Objectives: Sedentary behavior (SB) is distinct from physical inactivity. Children's guidelines recommend ≤2h/day screen time and ≥60min/day moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). This study describes SB in children at elevated risk of obesity, including the possibility of high SB in otherwise active children.

Methods: Participants were 534 children from Quebec, Canada, aged 8-10years with ≥1 obese parent in 2005-2008. SB and MVPA were measured by accelerometer and specific SBs by self-report, and height and weight were directly measured.

Results: Overweight/obese children were significantly more sedentary overall and reported higher screen time than normal weight children. About 19% of boys and 46% of girls met screen time but not PA guidelines; 28% of boys and 5% of girls met PA but not screen time guidelines. About 46% of overweight/obese children met neither guideline (32% normal weight); only 5% overweight/obese children met both (21% normal weight). Reported behaviors contributed 60%-80% of total SB time; the most sedentary children had the most unaccounted for SB time.

Conclusions: Overweight/obese children are more sedentary overall and report higher screen time than normal weight children. Public health efforts targeting PA and SB in children must consider sex and weight status while being cognizant that being sufficiently active is not exclusive of high levels of SB.

Keywords: Exercise; Physical activity; Screen time; Television; Weight status.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Computers / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / prevention & control
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior* / ethnology
  • Self Report
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors
  • Video Games / psychology