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levels and sociodemographic correlates of accelerometer-based physical activity in Irish children: a cross-sectional study
  1. Xia Li1,
  2. Patricia M Kearney1,
  3. Eimear Keane1,2,
  4. Janas M Harrington1,
  5. Anthony P Fitzgerald1,3
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  2. 2Health Promotion Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  3. 3Department of Statistics, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Xia Li, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork, Fourth floor, Western Gateway Building, Western Road, Cork City, Ireland; lixia_new{at}


Background The aim of this study was to explore levels and sociodemographic correlates of physical activity (PA) over 1 week using accelerometer data.

Methods Accelerometer data was collected over 1 week from 1075 8–11-year-old children in the cross-sectional Cork Children's Lifestyle Study. Threshold values were used to categorise activity intensity as sedentary, light, moderate or vigorous. Questionnaires collected data on demographic factors. Smoothed curves were used to display minute by minute variations. Binomial regression was used to identify factors correlated with the probability of meeting WHO 60 min moderate to vigorous PA guidelines.

Results Overall, 830 children (mean (SD) age: 9.9(0.7) years, 56.3% boys) were included. From the binomial multiple regression analysis, boys were found more likely to meet guidelines (probability ratio 1.17, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.28) than girls. Older children were less likely to meet guidelines than younger children (probability ratio 0.91, CI 0.87 to 0.95). Normal weight children were more likely than overweight and obese children to meet guidelines (probability ratio 1.25, CI 1.16 to 1.34). Children in urban areas were more likely to meet guidelines than those in rural areas (probability ratio 1.19, CI 1.07 to 1.33). Longer daylight length days were associated with greater probability of meeting guidelines compared to shorter daylight length days.

Conclusions PA levels differed by individual factors including age, gender and weight status as well as by environmental factors including residence and daylight length. Less than one-quarter of children (26.8% boys, 16.2% girls) meet guidelines. Effective intervention policies are urgently needed to increase PA.


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  • Contributors XL wrote the original manuscript, carried out the statistical analysis, applied critical revisions to the article based on other co-authors’ recommendations. PMK, EK and JMH conceptualised the design of the study, assisted in interpretation of the data, reviewed and revised the manuscript. APF assisted in conceptualisation, statistical methodology, reviewed and revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final draft.

  • Funding Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE) Award (ICE/2012/12) provided by the Health Research Board and the National Children's Research Centre, Crumlin, Dublin.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Clinical Research Ethics committee of Cork Teaching Hospitals, Cork, Ireland.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.