Physical activity, obesity, and cardiovascular risk factors in children. The Belgian Luxembourg Child Study II

Obes Res. 1997 Nov;5(6):549-56. doi: 10.1002/j.1550-8528.1997.tb00576.x.


Physical activity was measured in relation to cardiovascular (CV) risk factors in a randomly selected population of 1028 children from Province de Luxembourg in Belgium, a mainly rural area with a high prevalence of such risk factors among adults and children. Physical activity was estimated as participation in sport activities, a major indicator of leisure-time physical activity in schoolchildren, and physical inactivity was estimated as frequency and duration of television (TV) watching. Boys participated more frequently in sport activities than girls did (p = 0.001). A majority of the children watched TV daily. After age adjustment, bodyweight (girls, p < 0.012; boys, p < 0.027) and, in boys, body mass index (BMI) (p < 0.039) were related to days per week of TV watching. No significant relationships with other CV risk factors remained after adjustments for BMI. In analyses of independent contributions of age, TV watching, and sports activity on CV risk factors, age showed highly significant relationships. In boys, TV showed relationships with BMI (p < 0.04) and (borderline) with systolic blood pressure, independent of age and sports activity, whereas the latter was significantly related to subscapular skinfold (p < 0.04) and (borderline) with triceps skinfold and cholesterol. In girls, no significant independent contributions to risk factor associations were found. The father's education was directly associated with sports activities, whereas the mother being a housewife showed negative relationships to physical activity and positive to TV watching in their children, suggesting socioeconomic influence on the activity patterns of children. Furthermore, registrations suggested less physical activity in the most rural part of the area. It is concluded that children in this mainly rural area watch TV frequently. In boys, physical inactivity, measured both as TV watching and as registrations of sports activities, contributes independently to body fat mass. In girls, no contribution or weaker contributions of physical inactivity were found. This suggests that contributory factors leading to obesity might be different in girls and boys.

MeSH terms

  • Belgium
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Child
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Luxembourg
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sports
  • Television


  • Cholesterol