Associations Between Physical Activity and Asthma, Eczema and Obesity in Children Aged 12-16: An Observational Cohort Study

BMJ Open. 2019 Jan 20;9(1):e024858. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024858.


Objectives: To compare the physical activity of adolescents with three common long-term conditions (asthma, eczema and obesity) with adolescents without these conditions.

Design: Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of adolescents at ages 12, 14 and 16 in a large UK cohort study.

Setting: The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

Participants: 6473 adolescents with complete accelerometer data at at least one time point.

Methods: Mean minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary time per day were derived from accelerometer-based measurements at ages 12, 14 and 16. Obesity was defined at each time point from height and weight measurements. Parents reported doctor-assessed asthma or eczema. Cross-sectional and longitudinal regression models examined any differences in MVPA or sedentary time for adolescents with asthma, eczema or obesity compared with those without.

Results: In longitudinal models, boys engaged in an average of 69.7 (95% CI 67.6 to 71.7) min MVPA at age 12, declining by 3.1 (95% CI 2.6 to 3.6) min/year while girls' average MVPA was 47.5 (95% CI 46.1 to 48.9) min at age 12, declining by 1.8 (95% CI 1.5 to 2.1) min/year. There was no strong evidence of differences in physical activity patterns of those with and without asthma or eczema. Obese boys engaged in 11.1 (95% CI 8.7 to 13.6) fewer minutes of MVPA, and obese girls in 5.0 (95% CI 3.3 to 6.8) fewer minutes than their non-obese counterparts. Cross-sectional models showed comparable findings.

Conclusions: Mean minutes of MVPA per day did not differ between adolescents with asthma or eczema and those without, but obese adolescents engaged in fewer minutes of MVPA. Findings reinforce the need for strategies to help obese adolescents be more active but suggest no need to develop bespoke physical activity strategies for adolescents with mild asthma or eczema.

Keywords: alspac; asthma; cohort; eczema; obesity; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eczema / epidemiology*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology