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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Mar;36(3):525-32.

Youth recall and TriTrac accelerometer estimates of physical activity levels.

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  • 1Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA. acradock@hsph.harvard.edu



To examine significance of missing data and describe physical activity patterns using recall and accelerometer measures among youth in a nonlaboratory setting.


Fifty-four middle-school students wore TriTrac-R3D monitors (TTM) and completed an interviewer-prompted 24-h recall during two, 5-d monitoring sessions. We coded 2860 30-min recall intervals to a standard MET compendium. Complete TTM data were gathered for 43 students. Ordinal multinomial models tested for bias in TTM estimates of activity levels due to: 1) exclusion of subjects with incomplete TTM data, and 2) exclusion of intervals within days due to missing TTM data.


Students with complete monitor data had an average 12.5 +/- 0.9 monitored hours per day over 5.5 +/- 2.1 d. Compared with students with incomplete monitoring data, they reported similar proportions of recall 30-min intervals at sedentary (68% vs 69%), light (14% vs 15%), moderate (11% vs 10%), and vigorous (7% vs 6%) intensity levels (P = 0.63). The proportion of recall intervals (within days) with and without simultaneous monitoring data did not differ by activity intensity (P = 0.64) across sedentary (69% vs 67%), light (14% vs 12%), moderate (11% vs 10%), and vigorous (6% vs 9%) categories. Recalls overestimated percent time per day in moderate and vigorous activity relative to TTM (22.8% vs 8.9%, P < 0.0001). Boys reported higher percent of time than girls in vigorous activity (10.9% vs 3.9%, P < 0.05). Girls reported more time than boys (9.5% vs 6.4%, P < 0.05) in light activities. No significant sex differences were observed using TTM.


Missing TTM data did not bias estimates of activity levels. Self-reported activity measures overestimated moderate and vigorous activity relative to the TTM and varied by sex.

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