Background: We first explored the associations between physical behaviors and total and regional adiposity. Second, we examined how reallocating time in different physical behaviors was associated with total body fat mass in men and women from a low-income South African setting.
Methods: This cross-sectional study included a sample of 692 participants (384 men and 308 women) aged 41-72 years. Physical behaviors were measured using integrated hip and thigh accelerometry to estimate total movement volume and time spent in sleeping, sitting/lying, standing, light physical activity, and moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Total body fat mass and regional adiposity were measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.
Results: The associations between total movement volume and measures of regional obesity were mediated by total body adiposity. In men, reallocating 30 minutes of sitting/lying to 30 minutes of MVPA was associated with 1.0% lower fat mass. In women, reallocation of 30 minutes of sitting/lying to MVPA and 30 minutes of standing to MVPA were associated with a 0.3% and 1.4% lower fat mass, respectively.
Conclusions: Although the association between physical behaviors and fat mass differed between men and women, the overall public health message is similar; reallocating sedentary time to MVPA is associated with a reduction in fat mass in both men and women.
Keywords: low- and middle-income countries; moderate to vigorous physical activity; obesity; sedentary.