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Physical activity, diet and BMI in children aged 6–8 years : a cross-sectional analysis

Basterfield, Laura and Jones, Angela and Parkinson, Kathryn N. and Reilly, Jessica and Pearce, Mark S. and Reilly, John and Adamson, Ashley J. (2014) Physical activity, diet and BMI in children aged 6–8 years : a cross-sectional analysis. BMJ Open, 4 (6). ISSN 2044-6055

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Abstract

Objective To assess relationships between current physical activity (PA), dietary intake and body mass index (BMI) in English children. Longitudinal birth cohort study in northeast England, cross-sectional analysis. Participants 425 children (41% of the original cohort) aged 6–8 years (49% boys). Main outcome measures PA over 7 days was measured objectively by an accelerometer; three categories of PA were created: ‘active’ ≥60 min/day moderate-to-vigorous-intensity PA (MVPA); ‘moderately active’ 30–59 min/day MVPA; ‘inactive’ <30 min/day MVPA. Dietary intake over 4 days was measured using a prospective dietary assessment tool which incorporated elements of the food diary and food frequency methods. Three diet categories were created: ‘healthy’, ‘unhealthy’ and ‘mixed’, according to the number of portions of different foods consumed. Adherence to the ‘5-a-day’ recommendations for portions of fruit and vegetables was also assessed. Children were classified as ‘healthy weight’ or ‘overweight or obese’ (OW/OB) according to International Obesity Taskforce cutpoints for BMI. Associations between weight status and PA/diet categories were analysed using logistic regression. Few children met the UK-recommended guidelines for either MVPA or fruit and vegetable intake, with just 7% meeting the recommended amount of MVPA of 60 min/day, and 3% meeting the 5-a-day fruit and vegetable recommendation. Higher PA was associated with a lower OR for OW/OB in boys only (0.20, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.88). There was no association detected between dietary intake and OW/OB in either sex. Increasing MVPA may help to reduce OW/OB in boys; however, more research is required to examine this relationship in girls. Children are not meeting the UK guidelines for diet and PA, and more needs to be done to improve this situation.