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Effect of urbanization on objectively measured physical activity levels, sedentary time, and indices of adiposity in Kenyan adolescents

Ojiambo, R and Easton, C and Casajus, J.A. and Konstabel, K and Thairu, K and Anjila, E and Reilly, John J and Pitsiladis, Y.P (2012) Effect of urbanization on objectively measured physical activity levels, sedentary time, and indices of adiposity in Kenyan adolescents. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 9 (1). pp. 115-123. ISSN 1543-3080

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Abstract

Background: Urbanization affects lifestyles in the developing world but no studies have assessed the impact on objectively measured physical activity in children and adolescents from sub-Saharan Africa. Purpose: To compare objectively measured habitual physical activity, sedentary time, and indices of adiposity in adolescents from rural and urban areas of Kenya. Methods: Physical activity and sedentary time were assessed by accelerometry for 5 consecutive days in 97 (50 female and 47 male) rural and 103 (52 female and 51 male) urban adolescents (mean age 13 ± 1 years). Body Mass Index (BMI) and BMI z-scores were used to assess adiposity. Results: Rural males spent more time in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) compared with urban males (68 ± 22 vs. 50 ± 17 min, respectively; P < .001). Similarly, Rural females spent more time in MVPA compared with urban females (62 ± 20 vs. 37 ± 20 min, respectively; P < .001). Furthermore, there were significant differences in daily sedentary time between rural and urban subjects. Residence (rural vs. urban) significantly (P < .001) influenced BMI z-score (R2 = .46). Conclusion: Rural Kenyan adolescents are significantly more physically active (and less sedentary) and have lower indices of adiposity compared with urban adolescents and this is a likely reflection of the impact of urbanization on lifestyle in Kenya.