Open Access Open Badges Research

Tracking of TV and video gaming during childhood: Iowa Bone Development Study

Shelby L Francis1*, Matthew J Stancel1, Frances D Sernulka-George1, Barbara Broffitt3, Steven M Levy23 and Kathleen F Janz12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health and Human Physiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA

2 Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA

3 Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011, 8:100  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-100

Published: 24 September 2011



Tracking studies determine the stability and predictability of specific phenomena. This study examined tracking of TV viewing (TV) and video game use (VG) from middle childhood through early adolescence after adjusting for moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA), percentage of body fat (% BF), and maturity.


TV viewing and VG use were measured at ages 5, 8, 11, and 13 (n = 434) via parental- and self-report. MVPA was measured using the Actigraph, % BF using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and maturity via Mirwald predictive equations. Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) were used to assess stability and logistic regression was used to predict children "at risk" for maintaining sedentary behaviors. Additional models examined tracking only in overfat children (boys ≥ 25% BF; girls ≥ 32% BF). Data were collected from 1998 to 2007 and analyzed in 2010.


The adjusted stability coefficients (GEE) for TV viewing were 0.35 (95% CI = 0.26, 0.44) for boys, 0.32 (0.23, 0.40) for girls, and 0.45 (0.27, 0.64) for overfat. For VG use, the adjusted stability coefficients were 0.14 (0.05, 0.24) for boys, 0.24 (0.10, 0.38) for girls, and 0.29 (0.08, 0.50) for overfat. The adjusted odds ratios (OR) for TV viewing were 3.2 (2.0, 5.2) for boys, 2.9 (1.9, 4.6) for girls, and 6.2 (2.2, 17.2) for overfat. For VG use, the OR were 1.8 (1.1, 3.1) for boys, 3.5 (2.1, 5.8) for girls, and 1.9 (0.6, 6.1) for overfat.


TV viewing and VG use are moderately stable throughout childhood and predictive of later behavior. TV viewing appears to be more stable in younger children than VG use and more predictive of later behavior. Since habitual patterns of sedentarism in young children tend to continue to adolescence, early intervention strategies, particularly to reduce TV viewing, are warranted.

physical activity; stability; sedentary behavior; adolescence