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Associations between objectively assessed and questionnaire-based sedentary behaviour with BMI-defined obesity among general population children and adolescents living in England
  1. Ngaire A Coombs1,2,3,4,
  2. Emmanuel Stamatakis1,2,5,6,7
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2PARG (Physical Activity Research Group), Population Health Domain, University College London, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Social Statistics and Demography, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  4. 4Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  5. 5Prevention Research Collaboration, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  6. 6Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  7. 7Department of Exercise Science Discipline, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ngaire Coombs; n.coombs{at}


Objectives Sedentary behaviour (SB) is an emerging candidate risk factor for obesity in young people. Evidence to date is conflicting and it is unclear how different SB types are associated with obesity independently of physical activity. The objective of this study was to examine associations between a range of objectively measured and questionnaire-based SB indicators with obesity and body mass index (BMI) to assess whether these associations were independent of physical activity.

Participants 4469 (705 with accelerometer data) children aged 5–15 years from the 2008 Health Survey for England.

Outcomes The outcome was adiposity, classified using age-specific and sex-specific BMI SD scores (continuous) and obesity cut-offs (binary). Questionnaire-based measures comprised TV time, non-TV sitting time (such as homework, drawing, time at a computer or playing video games), total sitting time (TV time+non-TV sitting time) and average daily MVPA time. Objective SB and moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) time were measured using an Actigraph GT1M accelerometer, with cut-offs of 100 and 200 counts per minute for SB, and 2802 counts per minute for MVPA. Multiple logistic and multiple linear regression models examined associations between each indicator of sedentary time with obesity and BMI SD scores.

Results TV time (but not non-TV sitting or objectively-measured SB) was consistently associated with higher levels of obesity and BMI SD score, even after adjusting for MVPA and other potential confounders. Weaker associations were observed for total sitting time.

Conclusions TV viewing (but not other forms of objectively-measured or questionnaire-based sedentary time) was associated with obesity in children and adolescents. Although a causal relationship cannot be established, TV time may be a reasonable target for obesity prevention in young populations.


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