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Open Access Research article

The association between accelerometer-measured patterns of sedentary time and health risk in children and youth: results from the Canadian Health Measures Survey

Rachel C Colley12*, Didier Garriguet1, Ian Janssen34, Suzy L Wong1, Travis J Saunders2, Valerie Carson3 and Mark S Tremblay2

Author affiliations

1 Health Analysis Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada

2 Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada

3 School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

4 Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:200  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-200

Published: 7 March 2013

Abstract

Background

Self-reported screen time is associated with elevated health risk in children and youth; however, research examining the relationship between accelerometer-measured sedentary time and health risk has reported mixed findings. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between accelerometer-measured patterns of sedentary time and health risk in children and youth.

Methods

The results are based on 1,608 children and youth aged 6 to 19 years from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (2007–2009). Sedentary time was measured using the Actical accelerometer. Breaks in sedentary time and prolonged bouts of sedentary time lasting 20 to 120 minutes were derived for all days, weekend days and during the after-school period (i.e., after 3 pm on weekdays). Regression analyses were used to examine the association between patterns of sedentary time and body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, blood pressure and non-HDL cholesterol.

Results

Boys accumulated more sedentary time on weekdays after 3 pm and had a higher number of breaks in sedentary time compared to girls. Overweight/obese boys (aged 6–19 years) accumulated more sedentary time after 3 pm on weekdays (282 vs. 259 min, p < .05) and as prolonged bouts lasting at least 80 minutes (171 vs. 133 min, p < .05) compared to boys who were neither overweight nor obese. Prolonged bouts of sedentary time lasting at least 80 minutes accumulated after 3 pm on weekdays were positively associated with BMI and waist circumference in boys aged 11–14 years (p < .006). Each additional 60 min of sedentary time after 3 pm on weekdays was associated with a 1.4 kg·m-2 higher BMI and a 3.4 cm higher waist circumference in 11–14 year old boys. No sedentary pattern variables differed between girls who were not overweight or obese and those who were overweight/obese and none of the sedentary pattern variables were associated with any health markers in girls.

Conclusions

The findings confirm results of other studies that reported accelerometer-measured sedentary time was not associated with health risk in children and youth. Even when the pattern and timing of sedentary time was examined relative to health markers, few associations emerged and were limited to boys aged 11–14 years.

Keywords:
Behaviour; Breaks; Bouts; Physical activity; Pediatric