Sunday, July 3, 2016

Variation in population levels of physical activity in European adults

In a systematic literature review just published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition & Physical Activity, with Anne Loyen as first authors- we aim to provide an overview of all existing cross-European studies that assess physical activity in European adults, describe the variation in population levels according to these studies, and discuss the impact of the assessment methods. The review is registered in the PROSPERO database under registration number CRD42014010334.
All but two of the studies used questionnaires to assess physical activity, with the majority of studies using the IPAQ-short questionnaire. The remaining studies used accelerometers. The percentage of participants who either were or were not meeting the physical activity recommendations was the most commonly reported outcome variable, with the percentage of participants meeting the recommendations ranging from 7 % to 96 % across studies and countries.
The included studies showed substantial variation in the assessment methods, reported outcome variables and, consequently, the presented physical activity levels. Because of this, absolute
population levels of physical activity in European adults are currently unknown. However, when ranking countries, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain generally appear to be among the less active countries. Objective data of adults across Europe is currently limited. These findings highlight the need for standardisation of the measurement methods, as well as cross-European monitoring of physical activity levels.

In the same journals we also published similar systematic reviews regarding sedentary time among adults across Europephysical activity among children and adolescents across Europe, and sedentary behaviour in children and adolescents across Europe. These reviews were all part of the DEDIPAC (determinants of diet and physical activity) joint action of the European joint programming initiative 'A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life'.