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Physical activity and sedentary behaviour in relation to cardiometabolic risk in children: cross-sectional findings from the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study

Juuso Väistö12, Aino-Maija Eloranta1, Anna Viitasalo12, Tuomo Tompuri13, Niina Lintu1, Panu Karjalainen1, Eeva-Kaarina Lampinen1, Jyrki Ågren1, David E Laaksonen14, Hanna-Maaria Lakka1, Virpi Lindi1 and Timo A Lakka135*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Biomedicine, Physiology, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

2 Institute of Dentistry, School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

3 Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland

4 Institute of Clinical Medicine, Internal Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland

5 Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine, Kuopio, Finland

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:55  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-55

Published: 26 April 2014



Lower levels of physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviour (SB) have been associated with increased cardiometabolic risk among children. However, little is known about the independent and combined associations of PA and SB as well as different types of these behaviours with cardiometabolic risk in children. We therefore investigated these relationships among children.


The subjects were a population sample of 468 children 6–8 years of age. PA and SB were assessed by a questionnaire administered by parents and validated by a monitor combining heart rate and accelerometry measurements. We assessed body fat percentage, waist circumference, blood glucose, serum insulin, plasma lipids and lipoproteins and blood pressure and calculated a cardiometabolic risk score using population-specific Z-scores and a formula waist circumference + insulin + glucose + triglycerides - HDL cholesterol + mean of systolic and diastolic blood pressure. We analysed data using multivariate linear regression models.


Total PA was inversely associated with the cardiometabolic risk score (β = -0.135, p = 0.004), body fat percentage (β = -0.155, p < 0.001), insulin (β = -0.099, p = 0.034), triglycerides (β = -0.166, p < 0.001), VLDL triglycerides (β = -0.230, p < 0.001), VLDL cholesterol (β = -0.168, p = 0.001), LDL cholesterol (β = -0.094, p = 0.046) and HDL triglycerides (β = -0.149, p = 0.004) and directly related to HDL cholesterol (β = 0.144, p = 0.002) adjusted for age and gender. Unstructured PA was inversely associated with the cardiometabolic risk score (β = -0.123, p = 0.010), body fat percentage (β = -0.099, p = 0.027), insulin (β = -0.108, p = 0.021), triglycerides (β = -0.144, p = 0.002), VLDL triglycerides (β = -0.233, p < 0.001) and VLDL cholesterol (β = -0.199, p < 0.001) and directly related to HDL cholesterol (β = 0.126, p = 0.008). Watching TV and videos was directly related to the cardiometabolic risk score (β = 0.135, p = 0.003), body fat percentage (β = 0.090, p = 0.039), waist circumference (β = 0.097, p = 0.033) and systolic blood pressure (β = 0.096, p = 0.039). Resting was directly associated with the cardiometabolic risk score (β = 0.092, p = 0.049), triglycerides (β = 0.131, p = 0.005), VLDL triglycerides (β = 0.134, p = 0.009), VLDL cholesterol (β = 0.147, p = 0.004) and LDL cholesterol (β = 0.105, p = 0.023). Other types of PA and SB had less consistent associations with cardiometabolic risk factors.


The results of our study emphasise increasing total and unstructured PA and decreasing watching TV and videos and other sedentary behaviours to reduce cardiometabolic risk among children.

Trial registration Identifier: NCT01803776.

Child; Metabolic diseases/metabolism; Motor activity/physiology; Risk factors; Sedentary lifestyle