Systematic review of accelerometer-based methods for 24-h physical behavior assessment in young children (0-5 years old)

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BACKGROUND: Accurate accelerometer-based methods are required for assessment of 24-h physical behavior in young children. We aimed to summarize evidence on measurement properties of accelerometer-based methods for assessing 24-h physical behavior in young children. METHODS: We searched PubMed (MEDLINE) up to June 2021 for studies evaluating reliability or validity of accelerometer-based methods for assessing physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior (SB), or sleep in 0-5-year-olds. Studies using a subjective comparison measure or an accelerometer-based device that did not directly output time series data were excluded. We developed a Checklist for Assessing the Methodological Quality of studies using Accelerometer-based Methods (CAMQAM) inspired by COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments (COSMIN). RESULTS: Sixty-two studies were included, examining conventional cut-point-based methods or multi-parameter methods. For infants (0-12 months), several multi-parameter methods proved valid for classifying SB and PA. From three months of age, methods were valid for identifying sleep. In toddlers (1-3 years), cut-points appeared valid for distinguishing SB and light PA (LPA) from moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA). One multi-parameter method distinguished toddler specific SB. For sleep, no studies were found in toddlers. In preschoolers (3-5 years), valid hip and wrist cut-points for assessing SB, LPA, MVPA, and wrist cut-points for sleep were identified. Several multi-parameter methods proved valid for identifying SB, LPA, and MVPA, and sleep. Despite promising results of multi-parameter methods, few models were open-source. While most studies used a single device or axis to measure physical behavior, more promising results were found when combining data derived from different sensor placements or multiple axes. CONCLUSIONS: Up to age three, valid cut-points to assess 24-h physical behavior were lacking, while multi-parameter methods proved valid for distinguishing some waking behaviors. For preschoolers, valid cut-points and algorithms were identified for all physical behaviors. Overall, we recommend more high-quality studies evaluating 24-h accelerometer data from multiple sensor placements and axes for physical behavior assessment. Standardized protocols focusing on including well-defined physical behaviors in different settings representative for children's developmental stage are required. Using our CAMQAM checklist may further improve methodological study quality. PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42020184751.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116
Pages (from-to)116
Number of pages1
JournalThe international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • 24-h physical behavior
  • Accelerometer
  • Cut-points
  • Infants
  • Machine learning
  • Measurement properties
  • Physical activity
  • Preschoolers
  • Reliability
  • Sedentary behavior
  • Sleep
  • Toddlers
  • Validity

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