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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Sep;27(9):1093-9.

Physical activity and inactivity in Chinese school-aged youth: the China Health and Nutrition Survey.

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Department of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University East, Mesa, AZ 85212, USA.



To describe physical activity (PA) and inactivity levels and patterns in Chinese school children (aged 6-18 y).


PA and inactivity were assessed in a youth cohort enrolled in the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) in 1997.


A total of 1423 males (11.5+/-3.2 y) and 1252 females (11.5+/-3.3 y).


PA and inactivity were assessed by self-reported usual activity (questionnaire). Children under 10 y were assisted by parents.


Approximately 84% of Chinese youth actively commute to school for a median of 100-150 min/week. A total of 72% engage in in-school moderate/vigorous (MOD/VIG) PA for a median of 90-110 min/week. Relatively few children ( approximately 8%) participate in any MOD/VIG PA outside of school. A total of 72% engage in study-related activities outside of school for a median of 420 min/week. Only 8% of Chinese school children, regardless of gender, watch television > or =2 h/day; less than 1% watch > or =4 h/day. Chores related to housework are not a part of life for Chinese school children; fewer than 20% performed these tasks.


Chinese youth are unique compared to those in other developing countries because they do not perform household chores. Instead, they are under pressure to achieve scholastically. Participation in MOD/VIG PA outside of school is almost nonexistent. Current television watching habits are relatively low compared to developed countries and walking/biking is a common form of commuting. The descriptive analysis herein represents the foundation upon which future longitudinal studies of PA in this population will be based.

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