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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012 Mar 31;9:34. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-9-34.

Levels of physical activity and sedentary time among 10- to 12-year-old boys and girls across 5 European countries using accelerometers: an observational study within the ENERGY-project.

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  • 1Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.



The study aim was to objectively assess levels of sedentary time, light, moderate and vigorous physical activity (PA) among 10-12 year olds across five European countries and to examine differences in sedentary time and PA according to gender and country.


686 children (mean age = 11.6 ± 0.8 years, 53% girls, mean BMI = 19.0 ± 3.4 kg/m(2)) from Belgium, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands and Switzerland wore Actigraph accelerometers and had at least 2 weekdays with minimum 10 h-wearing time and 1 weekend day with minimum 8 h-wearing time. Data were analyzed using multivariate analyses of covariance.


Girls spent significantly more time sedentary (500 minutes/day) than boys (474 minutes/day) and significantly less time in light (267 minutes/day) and moderate-to-vigorous PA (32 minutes/day) than boys (284 minutes/day; 43 minutes/day respectively; p < 0.001). 4.6% of the girls and 16.8% of the boys met moderate-to-vigorous PA recommendations of at least 60 minutes/day. Greek boys were more sedentary (510 minutes/day; all at p < 0.05) than other boys. Dutch girls were less sedentary (457 minutes/day; all at p < 0.05) than other girls. Swiss girls displayed more moderate-to-vigorous PA (43 minutes/day; at p < 0.05) than other girls.


Large proportions of children across different European countries did not meet PA recommendations and spent a lot of time sedentary. Mean time spent in moderate-to-vigorous PA was significantly lower than the recommended 60 minutes. Obesity prevention programmes focusing on both decreasing sedentary time and increasing light, moderate and vigorous PA are needed for European children, particularly girls.

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