Background: Physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyles are major risk factors of childhood obesity. This study aimed to measure physical activity (PA) levels by accelerometer and Physical Activity Questionnaire for Older Children (PAQ-C) among Senegalese school children and the relation with Body Mass Index (BMI) and body composition. Methodology: 156 pupils 8-11 years old were randomly selected in four elementary public schools of Dakar. BMI z-score was used to categorize children according to their weight status. PA was measured by PAQ-C in the 156 pupils and by accelerometer (Actigraph GT3X+, Pensacola, FL, USA) in a subsample of 42 children. Body composition was determined by deuterium dilution method. Results: PAQ-C results were comparable in the 156 and 42 pupils. The 42 pupils presented a light activity measured by accelerometer, while PAQ-C classified the majority of them (57%; n = 24) in the moderate PA level. Children spent most of their time (min/day) in sedentary activities and light activities than in moderate and intense activity levels. Accumulation of 60 min/day Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) was achieved by 54.8% (n = 23) of the pupils. MVPA decreased in girls in relation to their body fatness. There was a significant difference in MVPA between boys and girls. Similarly, overweight/obese (45 ± 16 min/day) children had lower MVPA than their normal and underweight peers (88 ± 34 and 74 ± 36 min/day, respectively; p = 0.004). Conclusions: The two methods are inconsistent for measuring light and moderate PA levels. Although PAQ-C is an uncomplicated routine method, various activities were not adapted for genuine activities in Senegalese children and therefore needs to be validated in African children.
Keywords: PAQ-C; Senegal; accelerometer; physical activity; school children.