Measured sedentary time and physical activity during the school day of European 10-to 12-year-old children: The ENERGY project

M.M. van Stralen, M. Yildirim, A. Wulp, S.J. te Velde, M. Verloigne, A. Doessegger, O. Androutsos, E. Kovacs, J. Brug, M.J.M. Chin A Paw

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Objectives: This study aims to describe the time devoted to sedentary and physical activities at school in five European countries and to examine differences according to country, sex, ethnicity, parental education and weight status. Design: cross-European cross-sectional survey. Methods: Primary schoolchildren (n=1025) aged 10-12 years 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. Trained research assistants measured height and weight. Sex and date of birth were self-reported by the child and parental education and ethnicity were parent-reported. Results: 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 a significant larger amount of school-time in sedentary activities (67%) than boys (63%; p<. 0.0001), and spent less time in moderate to vigorous intensity activities (4% versus 5%; p<. 0.001). Overweight children spent significantly less time in moderate to vigorous intensity activities (4%) that normal weight children (45%, p<. 0.01). Parental education or ethnicity were not associated with time spent in sedentary or physical activities. Conclusions: European schoolchildren 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. Future interventions should target more physical activities and less sedentary time at school particularly in girls. © 2013 Sports Medicine Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-206
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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