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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

It's not just the television: survey analysis of sedentary behaviour in New Zealand young people

Louise S Foley1, Ralph Maddison1*, Yannan Jiang1, Timothy Olds2 and Kate Ridley3

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland Mail Centre, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

2 Health and Use of Time (HUT) Group, Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia

3 School of Education, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011, 8:132  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-132

Published: 1 December 2011

Abstract

Background

Sedentary behaviour has been linked with adverse health outcomes in young people; however, the nature and context of being sedentary is poorly understood. Accurate quantification and description of sedentary behaviour using population-level data is required. The aim of this research was to describe sedentary behaviour among New Zealand (NZ) youth and examine whether sedentary behaviour differs by Body Mass Index (BMI) status in this population.

Methods

A national representative cross-sectional survey of young people aged 5-24 years (n = 2,503) was conducted in 2008-2009. Data from this survey, which included subjectively (recall diary; n = 1,309) and objectively (accelerometry; n = 960) measured sedentary behaviour for participants aged 10-18 years were analysed using survey weighted methods.

Results

Participants self-reported spending on average 521 minutes per day (standard error [SE] 5.29) in total sedentary behaviour, 181 minutes per day (SE 3.91) in screen-based sedentary activities (e.g., television and video games), and 340 minutes per day (SE 5.22) in other non-screen sedentary behaviours (e.g., school, passive transport and self-care). Accelerometer-measured total sedentary behaviour was on average 420 minutes per day (SE 4.26), or 53% (SE 0.42%) of monitored time. There were no statistically significant differences in time spent in sedentary behaviour among overweight, obese and healthy/underweight young people.

Conclusions

Both subjective and objective methods indicate that NZ youth spend much of their waking time being sedentary. No relationships were found between sedentary behaviour and BMI status. These findings extend previous research by describing engagement in specific sedentary activities, as well as quantifying the behaviour using an objective method. Differences in what aspects of sedentary behaviour the two methods are capturing are discussed. This research highlights the potential for future interventions to target specific sedentary behaviours or demographic groups.

Keywords:
Sedentary behaviour; self-report; accelerometry; cross-sectional survey