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Research priorities for child and adolescent physical activity and sedentary behaviours: an international perspective using a twin-panel Delphi procedure

Lauren Gillis1, Grant Tomkinson1*, Timothy Olds1, Carla Moreira2, Candice Christie3, Claudio Nigg4, Ester Cerin5, Esther Van Sluijs6, Gareth Stratton7, Ian Janssen8, Jeremy Dorovolomo9, John J Reilly10, Jorge Mota2, Kashef Zayed11, Kent Kawalski12, Lars Bo Andersen13, Manuel Carrizosa14, Mark Tremblay15, Michael Chia16, Mike Hamlin17, Non Eleri Thomas18, Ralph Maddison19, Stuart Biddle20, Trish Gorely21, Vincent Onywera22 and Willem Van Mechelen23

Author Affiliations

1 Health and Use of Time (HUT) Group, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

2 Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

3 Ergonomics Unit, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

4 Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA

5 Institute of Human Performance, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

6 MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK

7 The Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK

8 School of Physical and Health Education, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

9 University of the South Pacific, Laucala Campus, Suva, Fiji Islands

10 Physical Activity for Health Research Group, School of Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde, Jordanhill, Glasgow, UK

11 Department of Physical Education, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

12 Physical and Health Education and Department of Psychology, School of Exercise Science, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

13 Center for Research in Childhood Health, Institute of Sport Sciences and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense 5230, Denmark

14 Education Faculty, University of Extremadura, Avda de Elvas s/n, Badajoz, Spain

15 Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada

16 Physical Education & Sports Science, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore

17 Department of Social Science, Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Sport, Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand

18 Centre for Children and Young People's Health and Well-Being, School of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, UK

19 Clinical Trials Research Unit, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

20 School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK

21 Institute of Youth Sport, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, LE 11 3TU, UK

22 Department of Exercise, Kenyatta University, Recreation and Sport Science, Nairobi, Kenya

23 Department of Public & Occupational Health, EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:112  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-112

Published: 24 October 2013



The quantity and quality of studies in child and adolescent physical activity and sedentary behaviour have rapidly increased, but research directions are often pursued in a reactive and uncoordinated manner.


To arrive at an international consensus on research priorities in the area of child and adolescent physical activity and sedentary behaviour.


Two independent panels, each consisting of 12 experts, undertook three rounds of a Delphi methodology. The Delphi methodology required experts to anonymously answer questions put forward by the researchers with feedback provided between each round.


The primary outcome of the study was a ranked set of 29 research priorities that aimed to be applicable for the next 10 years. The top three ranked priorities were: developing effective and sustainable interventions to increase children’s physical activity long-term; policy and/or environmental change and their influence on children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour; and prospective, longitudinal studies of the independent effects of physical activity and sedentary behaviour on health.


These research priorities can help to guide decisions on future research directions.

Physical activity; Sedentary behaviour; Research priorities; Children; Adolescents