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Objectively measured habitual physical activity in a highly obesogenic environment

McLure, S.A. and Summerbell, C. and Reilly, John J (2009) Objectively measured habitual physical activity in a highly obesogenic environment. Child: Care, Health and Development, 35 (3). pp. 369-375. ISSN 0305-1862

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While the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children continues to grow nationally, prevalence in the North-East of England is among the highest in the UK. The objective of this study was to investigate the habitual physical activity levels in a particularly obesogenic environment in the North-East of England. Eight primary schools were selected using a stratified random sampling frame ranking average deprivation levels. Participating children (n = 246, mean age 10 years) wore an accelerometer (Actigraph, GT-256) over five consecutive days (weekend plus three weekdays). Total daily moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity was calculated using thresholds by Puyau and colleagues. Only 7% (17/246) of children were sufficiently active. Boys were more physically active than girls (766 ± 268 vs. 641 ± 202 counts/min, 95% CI for the difference 63–186 cpm.). Total physical activity was not influenced significantly by deprivation levels or weight status, and there were no significant differences in physical activity between school or weekend days. The North-East of England is a recognized ‘hot spot’ for paediatric obesity and the present study shows that low levels of habitual physical activity are typical. Choice of accelerometry threshold affects both the apparent amount of physical activity and the ability to detect groups with particularly low levels of physical activity.