Research Study Abstract

Can Young Toddlers in a Rural African Setting Wear an Accelerometer to Measure Physical Activity?

  • Added on June 15, 2012

Purpose Published experiences of using accelerometers in very young children are scarce. This study tested the usability of one accelerometer type, ActiGraph GT3X, in assessing free-living physical activity of 1.5 year-old Malawian children.

Methods Fifty-two Malawian children [23 boys, mean age 17.0 months (range 16.0 – 18.5), mean HAZ -0.83, mean WHZ 0.08] from rural Lungwena area wore an ActiGraph GT3X accelerometer for seven days. A research assistant visited the participants every day to asses if the device was worn correctly: on the right hip attached snugly with elastic belt. A full day of wear was defined as having at least 360 minutes of wear-time between 5 am and 8 pm. Twenty-minutes or more of consecutive zeros was considered as non-wear time and excluded from analysis.

Results 98.1% of children (95%CI 89.7-100.0) wore the device for minimum of 4 days. Mean number of days worn was 6.2 (range 3-8). Mean (SD) minutes worn per day, excluding first and last day of measurement, was 745 (185). When visited, the children wore the device in a correct way in 97% of the cases. Only 4% of mothers reported that the child reacted to the device and only one reported changing the child’s daily routine because of the device.

Conclusions Accelerometers can be worn for several days by young children in rural Malawi, without any marked disturbance to their normal activities. Analyses to validate the accelerometer readings against observed physical activity are currently in progress and the results will be reported in the ISBNPA 2012-meeting.