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Int J Obes (Lond). 2014 Sep;38 Suppl 2:S135-43. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2014.144.

Objectively measured physical activity in European children: the IDEFICS study.

Author information

1] National Institute for Health Development, Tallinn, Estonia [2] Institute of Psychology, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.
National Institute for Health Development, Tallinn, Estonia.
Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
GENUD (Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development) research group, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain.
1] Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany [2] Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology-BIPS, Bremen, Germany.
Research and Education Institute of Child Health, Strovolos, Cyprus.
Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Department of Paediatrics, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary.
Unit of Epidemiology & Population Genetics, Institute of Food Sciences, National Research Council, Avellino, Italy.
Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology-BIPS, Bremen, Germany.
1] Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology-BIPS, Bremen, Germany [2] Institute of Statistics, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, University Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
Centre for Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine (SESAME), University of Brighton, Eastbourne, UK.



To provide sex- and age-specific percentile values for levels of physical activity (PA) and sedentary time of European children aged 2.0-10.9 years from eight European countries (Sweden, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Cyprus, Spain, Belgium and Estonia).


Free-living PA and sedentary time were objectively assessed using ActiGraph GT1M or ActiTrainer activity monitors in all children who had at least 3 days' worth of valid accelerometer data, with at least 8 h of valid recording time each day. The General Additive Model for Location Scale and Shape was used for calculating percentile curves.


Reference values for PA and sedentary time in the European children according to sex and age are displayed using smoothed percentile curves for 7684 children (3842 boys and 3842 girls). The figures show similar trends in boys and girls. The percentage of children complying with recommendations regarding moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is also presented and varied considerably between sexes and country. For example, the percentage of study participants who were physically active (as assessed by MVPA) for 60 or more minutes per day ranged from 2.0% (Cyprus) to 14.7% (Sweden) in girls and from 9.5% (Italy) to 34.1% (Belgium) in boys.


This study provides the most up-to-date sex- and age-specific reference data on PA in young children in Europe. The percentage compliance to MVPA recommendations for these European children varied considerably between sexes and country and was generally low. These results may have important implications for public health policy and PA counselling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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