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Substituting prolonged sedentary time and cardiovascular risk in children and youth: a meta-analysis within the International Children's Accelerometry Database (ICAD)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number96 (2019)
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
DateAccepted/In press - 9 Oct 2019
DatePublished (current) - 31 Oct 2019


BackgroundEvidence on the association between sitting for extended periods (i.e. prolonged sedentary time (PST)) and cardio-metabolic health is inconsistent in children. We aimed to estimate the differences in cardio-metabolic health associated with substituting PST with non-prolonged sedentary time (non-PST), light (LIPA) or moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in children.

MethodsCross-sectional data from 14 studies (7 countries) in the International Children’s Accelerometry Database (ICAD, 1998–2009) was included. Accelerometry in 19,502 participants aged 3–18 years, together with covariate and outcome data, was pooled and harmonized. Iso-temporal substitution in linear regression models provided beta coefficients (95%CI) for substitution of 1 h/day PST (sedentary time accumulated in bouts > 15 min) with non-PST, LIPA or MVPA, for each study, which were meta-analysed.
ResultsModelling substitution of 1 h/day of PST with non-PST suggested reductions in standardized BMI, but estimates were > 7-fold greater for substitution with MVPA (− 0.44 (− 0.62; − 0.26) SD units). Only reallocation by MVPA was beneficial for waist circumference (− 3.07 (− 4.47; − 1.68) cm), systolic blood pressure (− 1.53 (− 2.42; − 0.65) mmHg) and clustered cardio-metabolic risk (− 0.18 (− 0.3; − 0.1) SD units). For HDL-cholesterol and diastolic blood pressure, substitution with LIPA was beneficial; however, substitution with MVPA showed 5-fold stronger effect estimates (HDL-cholesterol: 0.05 (0.01; 0.10) mmol/l); diastolic blood pressure: − 0.81 (− 1.38; − 0.24) mmHg).

ConclusionsReplacement of PST with MVPA may be the preferred scenario for behaviour change, given beneficial associations with a wide range of cardio-metabolic risk factors (including adiposity, HDL-cholesterol, blood pressure and clustered cardio-metabolic risk). Effect estimates are clinically relevant (e.g. an estimated reduction in waist circumference of ≈1.5 cm for 30 min/day replacement). Replacement with LIPA could be beneficial for some of these risk factors, however with substantially lower effect estimates.

    Structured keywords


    Research areas

  • ICAD, ALSPAC, Prolonged sitting, Cardio-metabolic, Iso-temporal, Physical activity

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