Thursday, March 6, 2014

Measured sedentary time and physical activity during the school day

In a study just published online in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, with Dr. Maartje van Stralen as first author, we investigated the time devoted to sedentary and physical activities during school hours in five European countries and to examine differences according to country, sex, ethnicity, parental education and weight status. The study was part of the ENERGY project. More than 1000 10-12 y old primary schoolchildren in Belgium, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Switzerland wore accelerometers for at least six consecutive days. Only weekdays were used for this study to calculate the percentages of school-time spent in sedentary activities and moderate to vigorous intensity activity.
European schoolchildren spent on average 65% of their time at school in sedentary activities and 5% on moderate to vigorous intensity activities, with small differences between countries. Girls spent somewhat more school-time in sedentary activities than boys, and spent less time in moderate to vigorous intensity activities. Overweight children spent significantly less time in moderate to vigorous intensity activities than normal weight children. Parental education or ethnicity were not associated with time spent in sedentary or physical activities. European schoolchildren thus spend a small amount of their school-time in moderate to vigorous intensity activities and a large amount in sedentary activities, with small but significant differences across countries.