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Am J Prev Med. 2010 Feb;38(2):208-16. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.09.045.

Pedometer-measured physical activity patterns of youth: a 13-country review.

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  • 1Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly Street, Room 131, Columbia SC 29208, USA.



Insufficient physical activity among young people aged 5-18 years is a global public health issue, with considerable disparities among countries. A systematic review was conducted to identify studies reporting pedometer daily steps (steps x day(-1)) in order to compile comparative, global cross-sectional data on youth physical activity patterns.


Articles were included if they were in English, published by April 2009, and reported steps x day(-1) for boys and girls, separately, and reported steps x day(-1) for age groupings of no more than 4 years (e.g., 5-8 years) or combined no more than three grade levels (e.g., third- to fifth-graders). Studies could have been intervention-based but had to have reported baseline steps x day(-1), which would reflect unadulterated physical activity steps x day(-1) estimates. Inverse variance weighted estimates (steps x day(-1w)) were calculated for each country, and random effects models were estimated. Analyses were conducted in May and June 2009.


Forty-three studies, representing young people in 13 countries (N=14,200), were included. The majority of studies were from the U.S. (17/43). Overall, there was considerable variation within and among countries in steps x day(-1w). Boys and girls from European and Western Pacific regions had significantly more steps x day(-1w) than young people from the U.S. and Canada. Significantly lower steps x day(-1w) estimates for girls were observed for studies that combined measured steps x day(-1) for weekdays and weekend days, in comparison to weekdays only.


Limited sample sizes and non-population-based data preclude definitive statements regarding projected steps x day(-1) within countries. Nevertheless, these findings provide preliminary information for policymakers and researchers on the extent of the disparities among countries in the physical activity patterns of young people.

Copyright 2010 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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