Objective: The objective of this study was to pool, harmonise and re-analyse national accelerometer data from adults in four European countries in order to describe population levels of sedentary time and physical inactivity.
Methods: Five cross-sectional studies were included from England, Portugal, Norway and Sweden. ActiGraph accelerometer count data were centrally processed using the same algorithms. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to study the associations of sedentary time and physical inactivity with sex, age, weight status and educational level, in both the pooled sample and the separate study samples.
Results: Data from 9509 participants were used. On average, participants were sedentary for 530 min/day, and accumulated 36 min/day of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity. Twenty-three percent accumulated more than 10 h of sedentary time/day, and 72% did not meet the physical activity recommendations. Nine percent of all participants were classified as high sedentary and low active. Participants from Norway showed the highest levels of sedentary time, while participants from England were the least physically active. Age and weight status were positively associated with sedentary time and not meeting the physical activity recommendations. Men and higher-educated people were more likely to be highly sedentary, while women and lower-educated people were more likely to be inactive.
Conclusions: We found high levels of sedentary time and physical inactivity in four European countries. Older people and obese people were most likely to display these behaviours and thus deserve special attention in interventions and policy planning. In order to monitor these behaviours, accelerometer-based cross-European surveillance is recommended.