Objective Versus Self-Reported Physical Activity in Overweight and Obese Young Adults

J Phys Act Health. 2015 Oct;12(10):1394-400. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2014-0277. Epub 2015 Jan 19.


Background: To compare moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) assessed via questionnaires to an objective measure of MVPA in overweight or obese young adults.

Methods: MVPA was assessed in 448 [median BMI = 31.2 (Interquartile Range: 28.5-34.3) kg/m2] young adults [median age: 30.9 (Interquartile Range: 27.8-33.7) years]. Measures included the SenseWear Armband (MVPAOBJ), the Paffenbarger Questionnaire (MVPAPAFF), and the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ). The GPAQ was used to compute total MVPA (MVPAGPAQ-TOTAL) and MVPA from transportation and recreation (MVPAGPAQ-REC).

Results: The association between MVPAOBJ and MVPAPAFF was rs = 0.40 (P < .0001). Associations between MVPAOBJ and MVPAGPAQ-TOTAL and MVPAGPAQ-REC were rs = 0.19 and rs = 0.32, respectively (P < .0001). MVPAGPAQ-TOTAL was significantly greater than MVPAOBJ (P < .0001). Median differences in MET-min/week between MVPAOBJ and MVPAPAFF or MVPAGPAQ-REC were not significantly different from zero. There was proportional bias between each self-reported measure of MVPA and MVPAOBJ. There were significant associations between all measures of MVPA and fitness. MVPAOBJ was significantly associated with BMI and percent body fat.

Conclusions: Objective and self-reported measures of MVPA are weakly to moderately correlated, with substantial differences between measures. MVPAOBJ provided predictive validity with fitness, BMI, and percent body fat. Thus, an objective measure of MVPA may be preferred to self-report in young adults.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01131871.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Overweight / physiopathology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Recreation / physiology*
  • Self Report
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01131871