Effects of Interrupting Children's Sedentary Behaviors With Activity on Metabolic Function: A Randomized Trial

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Oct;100(10):3735-43. doi: 10.1210/jc.2015-2803. Epub 2015 Aug 27.


Context: Limited data suggest that interrupting sedentary behaviors with activity improves metabolic parameters in adults.

Objective: We tested whether interrupting sitting with short, moderate-intensity walking bouts improved glucose tolerance in children.

Design: Participants underwent two experimental conditions in random order on different days: continuous sitting for 3 hours or sitting interrupted by walking (3 min of moderate-intensity walking every 30 min). Insulin, C-peptide, glucose, and free fatty acids were measured every 30 minutes for 3 hours during an oral glucose tolerance test. Area under the curve (AUC) was calculated from hormone and substrate measurements. Children were given a buffet meal after each condition.

Setting: The study was conducted at the National Institutes of Health Hatfield Clinical Research Center.

Participants: Twenty-eight normal-weight 7-11 year olds participated.

Main outcomes: Patterns of substrate/hormone secretion and AUC, as well as energy intake, were examined by experimental condition.

Results: Interrupting sitting resulted in a 32% lower insulin AUC (P < .001), 17% lower C-peptide AUC (P < .001), and 7% lower glucose AUC (P = .018) vs continuous sitting. Mixed model results indicated that insulin (P = .036) and free fatty acid concentrations (P = .009) were significantly lower in the interrupted vs the continuous sitting condition. Lunchtime buffet meal energy intake did not significantly differ between the conditions (975 ± 387 vs 963 ± 309 kcal; P = .85).

Conclusions: Interrupting sedentary time with brief moderate-intensity walking improved short-term metabolic function in non-overweight children without increasing subsequent energy intake. These findings suggest that interrupting sedentary behavior may be a promising prevention strategy for reducing cardiometabolic risk in children.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01888939.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • C-Peptide / blood
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood*
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Male
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Walking / physiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • C-Peptide
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01888939