Comparability of published cut-points for the assessment of physical activity: Implications for data harmonization

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2019 Apr;29(4):566-574. doi: 10.1111/sms.13356. Epub 2019 Jan 8.


This study aimed to compare estimations of sedentary time (SED) and time spent in physical activity (PA) intensities in children with overweight/obesity across different age-appropriate cut-points based on different body-worn attachment sites and acceleration metrics. A total of 104 overweight/obese children (10.1 ± 1.1 years old, 43 girls) concurrently wore ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometers on their right hip and non-dominant wrist for 7 days (24 hours). Euclidean norm -1 g (ENMO) and activity counts from both vertical axis (VACounts) and vector magnitude (VMCounts) were derived. We calculated estimates of SED and light, moderate, vigorous, and moderate-to-vigorous (MVPA) intensity PA using different published cut-points for children. The prevalence of children meeting the recommended 60 min/d of MVPA was calculated. The time spent in SED and the different PA intensities largely differed across cut-points based on different attachment sites and acceleration metrics (ie, SED = 11-252 min/d; light PA = 10-217 min/d; moderate PA = 1-48 min/d; vigorous PA = 1-35 min/d; MVPA = 4-66 min/d). Consequently, the prevalence of children meeting the recommended 60 min/d of MVPA varied from 8% to 96% of the study sample. The present study provides a comprehensive comparison between available cut-points for different attachment and acceleration metrics in children. Furthermore, our data clearly show that it is not possible (and probably will never be) to know the prevalence of meeting the PA guidelines based on accelerometer data since apparent differences range from almost zero to nearly everyone meeting the guidelines.

Keywords: activity monitor; adolescent; exercise; lifestyle behaviors; sedentary lifestyle; youth.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry*
  • Child
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Hip*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overweight
  • Pediatric Obesity
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reference Values
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Wrist*