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Public Health Nutr. 2014 Oct;17(10):2295-306. doi: 10.1017/S1368980013002486. Epub 2013 Oct 8.

Physical activity and sedentary behaviour in European children: the IDEFICS study.

Author information

  • 11GENUD (Growth,Exercise,Nutrition and Development) Research Group,School of Health Science (EUCS),Department of Psychiatry and Nursing,University of Zaragoza,C/Domingo Miral s/n,50009 Zaragoza,Spain.
  • 22Department of Movement and Sport Sciences,Ghent University,Ghent,Belgium.
  • 33Department of Biometry and Data Management,Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and Social Medicine (BIPS),Bremen University,Bremen,Germany.
  • 44Department of Pediatrics, Medical Faculty,University of Pécs,Pécs,Hungary.
  • 55Department of Preventive and Predictive Medicine,Nutritional Epidemiology Unit,Fondazione IRCCS,Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori,Milan,Italy.
  • 66Unit of Epidemiology and Population Genetics,Institute of Food Sciences,National Research Council,Avellino,Italy.
  • 77National Institute for Health Development,Center of Health and Behavioral Sciences,Tallinn,Estonia.
  • 88Department of Paediatrics,The Queen Silvia Children's Hospital,University of Gothenburg,Gothenburg,Sweden.
  • 99Department of Public Health and Community Medicine,Public Health Epidemiology Unit,Sahlgrenska Academy,University of Gothenburg,Gothenburg,Sweden.
  • 1010Research and Education Institute of Child Health,Nicosia,Cyprus.
  • 1111Department of Intercultural Communication and Management,Copenhagen Business School,Frederiksberg,Denmark.



To estimate the prevalence of physical activity and sedentary behaviours in European children, and to evaluate the relationship between media availability in personal space and physical activity in relation to total screen time.


Data from the baseline IDEFICS (Identification and prevention of dietary- and lifestyle-induced health effects in children and infants) cross-sectional survey. Information on hours of television/digital video disk/video viewing and computer/games-console use (weekday and weekend days), media device availability in personal space, sports club membership, hours of active organized play and commuting (to and from school) were assessed via a self-reported parental questionnaire. Total screen time was defined as the sum of daily media use and subsequently dichotomized into meeting or not meeting the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Eight survey centres (Italy, Estonia, Cyprus, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Hungary and Spain).


Children (n 15 330; 51% males) aged 2-10 years.


Percentage of children engaged in total screen time for >2 h/d was higher on weekend days (52% v. 20% on weekdays) and in the older group (71% in males; 57% in females), varying by country. Children with a television set in their bedroom were more likely not to meet the screen time recommendations (OR = 1·54; 95% CI 1·60, 1·74).


Approximately a third of the children failed to meet current screen time recommendations. Availability of a television set in personal space increased the risk of excess total screen time. This information could be used to identify potential targets for public health promotion actions of young population groups.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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