Variations in accelerometry measured physical activity and sedentary time across Europe - harmonized analyses of 47,497 children and adolescents

Steene-Johannessen, Jostein and Hansen, Bjørge Herman and Dalene, Knut Eirik and Kolle, Elin and Northstone, Kate and Møller, Niels Christian and Grøntved, Anders and Wedderkopp, Niels and Kriemler, Susi and Page, Angie S. and Puder, Jardena J. and Reilly, John J. and Sardinha, Luis B. and van Sluijs, Esther M.F. and Andersen, Lars Bo and van der Ploeg, Hidde and Ahrens, Wolfgang and Flexeder, Claudia and Standl, Marie and Shculz, Holger and Moreno, Luis A. and De Henauw, Stefaan and Michels, Nathalie and Cardon, Greet and Ortega, Francisco B. and Ruiz, Jonatan and Aznar, Susana and Fogelholm, Mikael and Decelis, Andrew and Olesen, Line Grønholt and Hjorth, Mads Fiil and Santos, Rute and Vale, Susana and Christiansen, Lars Breum and Jago, Russ and Basterfield, Laura and Owen, Christopher G. and Nightingale, Claire M. and Eiben, Gabriele and Polito, Angela and Lauria, Fabio and Vanhelst, Jeremy and Hadjigeorgiou, Charalambos and Konstabel, Kenn and Molnár, Dénes and Sprengeler, Ole and Manios, Yannis and Harro, Jaanus and Kafatos, Anthony and Anderssen, Sigmund Alfred and Ekelund, Ulf (2020) Variations in accelerometry measured physical activity and sedentary time across Europe - harmonized analyses of 47,497 children and adolescents. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 17. 38. ISSN 1479-5868 (

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BACKGROUND: Levels of physical activity and variation in physical activity and sedentary time by place and person in European children and adolescents are largely unknown. The objective of the study was to assess the variations in objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time in children and adolescents across Europe. METHODS: Six databases were systematically searched to identify pan-European and national data sets on physical activity and sedentary time assessed by the same accelerometer in children (2 to 9.9 years) and adolescents (≥10 to 18 years). We harmonized individual-level data by reprocessing hip-worn raw accelerometer data files from 30 different studies conducted between 1997 and 2014, representing 47,497 individuals (2-18 years) from 18 different European countries. RESULTS: Overall, a maximum of 29% (95% CI: 25, 33) of children and 29% (95% CI: 25, 32) of adolescents were categorized as sufficiently physically active. We observed substantial country- and region-specific differences in physical activity and sedentary time, with lower physical activity levels and prevalence estimates in Southern European countries. Boys were more active and less sedentary in all age-categories. The onset of age-related lowering or leveling-off of physical activity and increase in sedentary time seems to become apparent at around 6 to 7 years of age. CONCLUSIONS: Two third of European children and adolescents are not sufficiently active. Our findings suggest substantial gender-, country- and region-specific differences in physical activity. These results should encourage policymakers, governments, and local and national stakeholders to take action to facilitate an increase in the physical activity levels of young people across Europe.


Steene-Johannessen, Jostein, Hansen, Bjørge Herman, Dalene, Knut Eirik, Kolle, Elin, Northstone, Kate, Møller, Niels Christian, Grøntved, Anders, Wedderkopp, Niels, Kriemler, Susi, Page, Angie S., Puder, Jardena J., Reilly, John J. ORCID logoORCID:, Sardinha, Luis B., van Sluijs, Esther M.F., Andersen, Lars Bo, van der Ploeg, Hidde, Ahrens, Wolfgang, Flexeder, Claudia, Standl, Marie, Shculz, Holger, Moreno, Luis A., De Henauw, Stefaan, Michels, Nathalie, Cardon, Greet, Ortega, Francisco B., Ruiz, Jonatan, Aznar, Susana, Fogelholm, Mikael, Decelis, Andrew, Olesen, Line Grønholt, Hjorth, Mads Fiil, Santos, Rute, Vale, Susana, Christiansen, Lars Breum, Jago, Russ, Basterfield, Laura, Owen, Christopher G., Nightingale, Claire M., Eiben, Gabriele, Polito, Angela, Lauria, Fabio, Vanhelst, Jeremy, Hadjigeorgiou, Charalambos, Konstabel, Kenn, Molnár, Dénes, Sprengeler, Ole, Manios, Yannis, Harro, Jaanus, Kafatos, Anthony, Anderssen, Sigmund Alfred and Ekelund, Ulf;