Research Study Abstract

Objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time in youth: the International children’s accelerometry database (ICAD)

  • Published on Sept. 17, 2015

Background: Physical activity and sedentary behaviour in youth have been reported to vary by sex, age, weight status and country. However, supporting data are often self-reported and/or do not encompass a wide range of ages or geographical locations. This study aimed to describe objectively-measured physical activity and sedentary time patterns in youth.

Methods: The International Children’s Accelerometry Database (ICAD) consists of ActiGraph accelerometer data from 20 studies in ten countries, processed using common data reduction procedures. Analyses were conducted on 27,637 participants (2.8–18.4 years) who provided at least three days of valid accelerometer data. Linear regression was used to examine associations between age, sex, weight status, country and physical activity outcomes.

Results: Boys were less sedentary and more active than girls at all ages. After 5 years of age there was an average cross-sectional decrease of 4.2 % in total physical activity with each additional year of age, due mainly to lower levels of light-intensity physical activity and greater time spent sedentary. Physical activity did not differ by weight status in the youngest children, but from age seven onwards, overweight/obese participants were less active than their normal weight counterparts. Physical activity varied between samples from different countries, with a 15–20 % difference between the highest and lowest countries at age 9–10 and a 26–28 % difference at age 12–13.

Conclusions: Physical activity differed between samples from different countries, but the associations between demographic characteristics and physical activity were consistently observed. Further research is needed to explore environmental and sociocultural explanations for these differences.


  • Ashley R. Cooper 1,2
  • Anna Goodman 3
  • Angie S. Page 1
  • Lauren B. Sherar 4
  • Dale W. Esliger 4
  • Esther MF van Sluijs 5
  • Lars Bo Andersen 6
  • Sigmund Anderssen 7
  • Greet Cardon 8
  • Rachel Davey 9
  • Karsten Froberg 6
  • Pedro Hallal 10
  • Kathleen F. Janz 11
  • Katarzyna Kordas 12
  • Susi Kreimler 13
  • Russ R. Pate 14
  • Jardena J. Puder 15
  • John J. Reilly 16
  • Jo Salmon 17
  • Luis B. Sardinha 18
  • Anna Timperio 17
  • Ulf Ekelund 7


  • 1

    Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

  • 2

    National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Unit in Nutrition, Diet and Lifestyle, Bristol, UK

  • 3

    Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

  • 4

    School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK

  • 5

    MRC Epidemiology Unit & UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

  • 6

    Centre for Research in Childhood Health, Exercise Epidemiology Unit, Department of Sport Sciences and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

  • 7

    Department of Sport Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway

  • 8

    Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium

  • 9

    Centre for Research & Action in Public Health, Health Research Institute, University of Canberra, Canberra ACT 2617, Australia

  • 10

    Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, RS, Brazil

  • 11

    Department of Health and Human Physiology, University of Iowa, Iowa, USA

  • 12

    School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

  • 13

    Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland

  • 14

    Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA

  • 15

    Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Lausanne, Switzerland

  • 16

    School of Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland

  • 17

    Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood VIC 3125, Australia

  • 18

    Exercise and Health Laboratory, CIPER, Faculty of Human Kinetics, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal


International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity


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