Background: As cardio-metabolic risk tracks from childhood to adulthood, a better understanding of the relationship between movement behaviors (physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep) and cardio-metabolic risk in childhood may aid in preventing metabolic syndrome (MetS) in adulthood.
Objective: To examine independent and combined cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between movement behaviors and the MetS score in 8-11 year old Danish children.
Design: Physical activity, sedentary time and sleep duration (seven days and eight nights) were assessed by accelerometer and fat mass index (fat mass/height2) was assessed using Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. The MetS-score was based on z-scores of waist circumference, mean arterial blood pressure, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance, triglycerides and high density lipoprotein cholesterol. All measurements were taken at three time points separated by 100 days. Average of the three measurements was used as habitual behavior in the cross-sectional analysis and changes from first to third measurement was used in the longitudinal analysis.
Results: 723 children were included. In the cross-sectional analysis, physical activity was negatively associated with the MetS-score (P<0.03). In the longitudinal analysis, low physical activity and high sedentary time were associated with an increased MetS-score (all P<0.005); however, after mutual adjustments for movement behaviors, physical activity and sleep duration, but not sedentary time, were associated with the MetS-score (all P<0.03). Further adjusting for fat mass index while removing waist circumference from the MetS-score rendered the associations no longer statistically significant (all P>0.17). Children in the most favorable tertiles of changes in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, sleep duration and sedentary time during the 200-day follow-up period had an improved MetS-score relative to children in the opposite tertiles (P = 0.005).
Conclusion: The present findings indicate that physical activity, sedentary time and sleep duration should all be targeted to improve cardio-metabolic risk markers in childhood; this is possibly mediated by adiposity.