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Improvements in the Measurement of Physical Activity in Childhood Obesity Research; Lessons from Large Studies of Accelerometers

Author(s): Calum Mattocks | Kate Tilling | Andy Ness | Chris Riddoch

Journal: Clinical Medicine : Pediatrics
ISSN 1178-220X

Volume: 2;
Issue: Obesity;
Start page: 27;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: obesity | physical activity | measurement | epidemiology

Advances in technology have improved our ability to measure physical activity in free-living humans. In the last few years, several large epidemiological studies in Europe and the United States have used accelerometers to assess physical activity in children and adolescents. The use of accelerometers to study physical activity has presented some challenges on how to summarise and interpret the data that they generate, however these studies are providing important information on the levels and patterns of physical activity among children and adolescents. Some studies have reported that few children and adolescents appear to meet the recommended minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day. Accelerometers have also allowed examination of the relationships between physical activity and health outcomes like obesity and other chronic disease risk factors such as insulin resistance, aerobic fitness, blood lipids and blood pressure. Use of accelerometers allows such relationships to be estimated with a precision that was previously impossible with self-report measures of physical activity. Such information is already advancing our understanding of the role that physical activity plays in preventing childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease risk.
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