Associations between meeting the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years and behavioral and emotional problems among 3-year-olds

J Sci Med Sport. 2019 Jul;22(7):797-802. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2019.01.003. Epub 2019 Jan 10.


Objectives: Primary: examine associations between meeting the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years and behavioral and emotional problems in a large sample of 3-year-old children. Secondary: determine the proportion of children meeting the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Methods: Participants were 3-year olds (n=539) from the Edmonton site of the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort. Physical activity and sleep duration were accelerometer-derived while screen time was parent-reported. Meeting the overall guidelines was defined as: (1) ≥180min/day of total physical activity, including 60min/day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, (2) ≤1h/day of screen time, and (3) 10-13h of sleep per 24-hour period. Externalizing, internalizing, and total problem scores (lower scores representing fewer problems) were calculated from the parent-reported Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Descriptive statistics and linear regression models were completed.

Results: Only 5% of children met the overall guidelines (all three recommendations), with 19.3%, 50.5%, and 83.1% meeting the physical activity, screen time, and sleep recommendations, respectively. Meeting more recommendations was associated with lower scores for total (B=-1.78, 95%CI: -3.03, -0.54), externalizing (B=-1.51, 95%CI: -2.80, -0.22) and internalizing (B=-1.35, 95%CI: -2.60, -0.01) problems. Similar findings were also observed for the specific combinations of: (1) physical activity and screen time and (2) sleep duration and screen time.

Conclusions: Meeting more recommendations within the 24-hour Movement Guidelines was associated with fewer behavioral and emotional problems at 3-years. Few 3-year-olds met the overall guidelines. Findings support an integrated approach for healthy growth and development.

Keywords: Child development; Exercise; Fitness trackers; Guideline; Sleep; Television.

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Canada
  • Checklist
  • Child Behavior Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires