24-h movement behaviors from infancy to preschool: cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships with body composition and bone health

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2018 Nov 26;15(1):118. doi: 10.1186/s12966-018-0753-6.


Background: New physical activity guidelines for children address all movement behaviors across the 24-h day (physical activity, sedentary behavior, sleep), but how each component relates to body composition when adjusted for the compositional nature of 24-h data is uncertain.

Aims: To i) describe 24-h movement behaviors from 1 to 5 years of age, ii) determine cross-sectional relationships with body mass index (BMI) z-score, iii) determine whether movement behaviors from 1 to 5 years of age predict body composition and bone health at 5 years.

Methods: 24-h accelerometry data were collected in 380 children over 5-7 days at 1, 2, 3.5 and 5 years of age to determine the proportion of the day spent: sedentary (including wake after sleep onset), in light (LPA) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and asleep (including naps). BMI was determined at each age and a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan measured fat mass, bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) at 5 years of age. 24-h movement data were transformed into isometric log-ratio co-ordinates for multivariable regression analysis and effect sizes back-transformed.

Results: At age 1, children spent 49.6% of the 24-h day asleep, 38.2% sedentary, 12.1% in LPA, and 0.1% in MVPA, with corresponding figures of 44.4, 33.8, 19.8 and 1.9% at 5 years of age. Compositional time use was only related significantly to BMI z-score at 3.5 years in cross-sectional analyses. A 10% increase in mean sleep time (65 min) was associated with a lower BMI z-score (estimated difference, - 0.25; 95% CI, - 0.42 to - 0.08), whereas greater time spent sedentary (10%, 47 min) or in LPA (10%, 29 min) were associated with higher BMI z-scores (0.12 and 0.08 respectively, both p < 0.05). Compositional time use from 1 to 3.5 years was not related to future BMI z-score or percent fat. Although MVPA at 2 and 3.5 years was consistently associated with higher BMD and BMC at 5 years, actual differences were small.

Conclusions: Considerable changes in compositional time use occur from 1 to 5 years of age, but there is little association with adiposity. Although early MVPA predicted better bone health, the differences observed had little clinical relevance.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov number NCT00892983 .

Keywords: Children; Compositional time use; Physical activity; Sedentary behavior; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Accelerometry
  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adiposity
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Bone Density*
  • Bone and Bones
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior*
  • Male
  • Obesity
  • Schools
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Sleep

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00892983