The objective measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in 2-3 year olds and their parents: a cross-sectional feasibility study in the bi-ethnic Born in Bradford cohort

BMC Public Health. 2015 Nov 11:15:1109. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-2481-z.


Background: The reported lower physical activity (PA) levels of British South Asians (SA) are suggested as a key influence in their increased risk of non-communicable diseases compared to their White British peers. Differences in objectively measured PA and sedentary behaviour (SB) between these ethnic groups have been observed during childhood (ages: 8-10 years). However, no information exists on objectively measured PA/SB in younger children, or how early in life differences in these behaviours emerge. Assessing PA/SB in the Born in Bradford (BIB) cohort study provides an opportunity to address such gaps in the literature, but previous studies have found recruiting and retaining SA participants challenging, and the feasibility of using accelerometers with SA children and parents is unknown. This study investigated the feasibility of recruiting and objectively measuring the habitual PA/SB of 2-3 year old SA and White British children and parents from the BIB study.

Methods: Families were informed about the study during routine BIB assessments. Consenting families were visited at home for anthropometry measurements, interviews, material delivery and collection. Participants (child and parents) were instructed to wear the ActiGraph GT3X+ for 8 days. Descriptive statistics were computed, and ethnic differences tested (Chi-square) for recruitment uptake and compliance.

Results: 160 families (30 % SA) provided contact details, and 97 (22 % SA) agreed to enter the study. White British families showed lower refusal and higher intake into the study than SA (p = 0.006). Of 89 children issued with an accelerometer, 34 % complied with the 8-day protocol (significantly less SA; p = 0.015) and 75 % provided enough days (≥ 3) to assess habitual PA/SB (no ethnic differences). Parental rates of compliance with the protocol did not differ between ethnicities. Issues experienced with the protocol and accelerometer use, and successful implementation strategies/procedures are presented.

Conclusions: Although greater efforts may be required to recruit SA, those consenting to participate were as likely as White British to provide enough data to assess habitual PA/SB. The issues and successful strategies reported in this feasibility study represent valuable information for planning future studies, and enhance recruitment and compliance with accelerometer protocols in SA and White British toddlers and parents.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / instrumentation
  • Adult
  • Asia
  • Asian People*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity*
  • Exercise*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic* / methods
  • Motor Activity
  • Parents*
  • Patient Selection
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • United Kingdom
  • White People*