Associations between meeting combinations of 24-hour movement recommendations and dietary patterns of children: A 12-country study

Prev Med. 2019 Jan;118:159-165. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.10.025. Epub 2018 Oct 27.


The purpose of this study was to examine whether meeting movement behavior recommendations (i.e., ≥60 min of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity [MVPA] per day, ≤2 h of recreational screen time per day, and between 9 and 11 h of nightly sleep), and combinations of these recommendations, are associated with dietary patterns of children. This cross-sectional study was conducted between 2011 and 2013 and included 5873 children 9-11 years of age from 12 countries around the world. MVPA and nightly sleep duration were measured using 24-hour waist-worn accelerometry. Screen time habits were assessed via self-report. A food frequency questionnaire was used to assess dietary patterns, and the whole diet was described by two components derived from principal component analysis: "healthy" and "unhealthy" dietary pattern scores. Covariates included in the multilevel statistical models included age, sex, highest parental education, and body mass index z-score. A healthier dietary pattern score was observed when more movement behavior recommendations were met. Among the three movement behaviors, limiting screen time habits to the recommended amount was most strongly associated with healthier dietary patterns. Similarly, a less unhealthy dietary pattern was observed when more movement behavior recommendations were met. Surprisingly, the highest unhealthy dietary pattern was associated with children meeting the MVPA recommendation alone. Combinations including ≤2 h of screen time per day were those most strongly associated with a less unhealthy dietary pattern. Findings were similar across study sites and in boys and girls. In conclusion, meeting more movement behavior recommendations is generally associated with better dietary patterns in children from around the world, with limiting screen time habits showing the strongest relationships.

Keywords: Diet; Eating behavior; Food intake; Pediatric; Physical activity; Screen time; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / instrumentation
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Screen Time*
  • Self Report
  • Sleep / physiology