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Association of BMI category with change in children’s physical activity between ages 6 and 11 years: a longitudinal study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Early online date12 Nov 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 12 Sep 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 12 Nov 2019


Background/objectives: To examine the association of body mass index (BMI) with change in children’s physical activity and sedentary time between ages 6 and 11.

Participants: A total of 2132 children participated from 57 schools in Southwest England, from the B-PROACT1V study.

Methods: Mean minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary time per day were derived from accelerometer-based measurements at ages 6, 9 and 11. Linear multilevel models examined the association of BMI categories with MVPA and sedentary time between 6 and 11, adjusting for seasonality, wear time, gender and household education. Differences in change over time were examined using interaction terms.

Results: Average weekday MVPA decreased between ages 6 and 11 by 2.2 min/day/year (95% CI: 1.9 to 2.5), with a steeper decline at weekends. Average sedentary time increased at a rate of 12.9 min/day/year (95% CI: 12.2 to 13.6). There were no differences in mean levels of MVPA by BMI categories at age 6, but differences emerged as children aged, with the gap between children who were healthy weight and overweight increasing by 1.7 min/day (95% CI: 0.8 to 2.6) every year, and between healthy and obese by 2.0 min/day (95% CI: 0.9 to 3.1) each year. Children who were overweight/obese engaged in less average weekday sedentary time at age 6 than those of healthy weight, but the gap closed by age 11.

Conclusion: MVPA declines and sedentary time increases on average for all children between ages 6 and 11. While there are no differences in activity levels by BMI category at age 6, differences in MVPA emerge over time for those who are overweight and obese. Developing interventions that support children to retain activity levels as they approach older childhood, particularly those who are overweight/obese could improve public health.

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