Research Study Abstract

Ethnic Comparison Of Habitual Physical Activity And Sedentary Behavior Of Young Children Aged 12-36 Months

  • Presented on May 29, 2014

Background: The pediatric obesity epidemic has intensified the awareness of decreased physical activity and increased sedentary behavior as a major pubic health concern. While the research clearly shows ethnic disparities in obesity risk, very few have examined ethnic differences in physical activity. Most of these studies conducted were in older populations where the patterns of activity have already been “set”. To our knowledge no studies have objectively investigated differences in the physical activity and sedentary behaviors of between Caucasian and Hispanic children aged 12 to 36 months.

Purpose: The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that light physical activity (LPA), moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary behavior (SB) differs between very young children in association with ethnicity.

Methods: Physical activity and sedentary behavior was measured in sixty one toddlers (mean age 29.7 ± 6.6 months) using the Actigraph GT1M (Pensacola, Florida). GT1M’s were worn for a minimum of 6 waking hours per day (approximately 60% of the waking hours for children of this age), for a minimum of 4 days. Age appropriate cut-offs were used to categorize intensities of physical activity and describe levels of sedentary behavior. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to test for significance ethnic differences in LPA, MVAP and SB, with a significance set at 0.05.

Results: Caucasian children spent 56% in SB, 1.3% in LPA and 42.6% in MVPA, where as Hispanic children spent 58.8% in SB, 1.2% in LPA and 40.5% in MVPA. There were no significant ethnic differences in LPA (F (1,31) = 0.002, p=0.961), MVPA (F(1,31) = 1.020, p=0.320), and SB (F(1,31) = 0.194, p=0.662).

Conclusions: The present study has been the first to objectively measure ethnic differences in physical activity and sedentary behavior of children aged 12 to 36 months. It shows that levels of physical activity and engagement in sedentary behaviors are similar in children. The amount of inactivity at this young age is of major concern.

This research was funded by The Center for Equality and Justice Fellowship

Presented at

ACSM 2014 Annual Meeting


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