Loughborough University
Thesis-2013-NobradaCosta.pdf (8.04 MB)

The measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in a sample of 2 to 3 year old South Asian and White British children

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posted on 2013-11-06, 12:46 authored by Silvia Nobre da Costa
Background: Studies have reported that preschool children may not be sufficiently active according to guidelines. This is worrying because early childhood is a critical period for the establishment of sedentary behaviour (SB) and physical activity (PA) habits, which have immediate and long term influences on health. The majority of evidence on levels, determinants, and health consequences of SB and PA in young children is, however, based on subjective measures in predominately White children aged three years or older. Aims: To 1) assess the feasibility and acceptability of using three different accelerometers in South Asian and White British 2-3 year olds and their parents; 2) calibrate and validate the accelerometers to measure SB and PA in 2-3 year olds; 3) investigate the influence of 5-, 10-, and 15-second epochs on time spent in SB, light PA, and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) in 2-3 year olds; and 4) assess the feasibility of measuring the habitual SB and PA with the ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometer in South Asian and White British 2-3 year olds and their parents. Methods: Focus groups were performed with 17 South Asian and White British mothers and the audio-recordings were transcribed verbatim and analysed with thematic analysis (Aim 1). To calibrate the three accelerometers against direct observation (Aim 2), semi-structured activity sessions were run with 18 South Asian and White British 2-3 year olds. Mixed-effects regression and receiver-operating characteristics (ROC) curve analysis were used to generate prediction equations and 5- and 10-second cut-points to assess children s SB and PA. Validity of the generated cut-points against direct observation (Aim 2) was assessed in a separate sample of 20 White British and Black African 2-3 year olds during free-play, using Cohen s kappa, ROC curve analysis, Bland-Altman plots, and Lin s concordance coefficient. Differences in estimated time spent in SB, light PA and MVPA from 5-, 10- and 15-second epochs were tested with repeated-measures ANOVA and paired t-tests in the calibration sample (Aim 3). A pilot study was conducted with 120 South Asian and White British families from a birth cohort study to address aim 4. Study intake and compliance with an 8-day measurement protocol were calculated, and differences between ethnicities were assessed with the Chi-square test. Results: The ActiGraph GT3X+ was the most widely accepted accelerometer, with the least amount of issues raised by mothers. Practical and software issues with the Actiheart and activPAL3 during the calibration phase resulted in insufficient good quality data collected, which made it unfeasible to calibrate both monitors. The overall 5-second Axis1 cut-points for the ActiGraph GT3X+ provided a valid tool to measure the SB and total PA of 2-3 year olds in free-living conditions. Using 10- and 15-second epochs overestimated children s light PA and underestimated time spent in SB and MVPA. Less South Asian than White British families were recruited into the study, and less South Asian than White British children complied with the 8-day measurement protocol. There were no ethnic differences in the number of children and parents providing enough accelerometry data (i.e. ≥3 valid days), or the number of parents complying with the measurement protocol. Conclusions: The results demonstrated that it is feasible to use the ActiGraph GT3X+ to assess the habitual SB and PA of a bi-ethnic sample of 2-3 year old children and their parents. The accurate assessment of SB and PA in 2-3 year olds using the overall 5-second Axis1 cut-points developed and validated in this thesis will enable researchers to investigate the levels, determinants, and health consequences of SB and PA. Such research will inform public health policies and interventions to improve children s health.


School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences, Loughborough University



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Sílvia Costa

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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