Research Study Abstract

Physical Activity Patterns and Fatness in Spanish Children: The European Youth Heart Study

  • Added on July 25, 2011

Introduction Spain has one of the highest rates of childhood overweight and obesity in Europe (1). The majority of Spanish children do not engage in enough physical activity (PA) to be beneficial for health (2, 3). Recommendations for healthy levels of PA for children have been established (4) but there is a need for objective and accurate assessment of the proportion of overweight/obese vs non overweight/ obese children meeting the PA guidelines. Moreover, assessing time spent in moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) both between days (during weekdays and weekend days) and within days is of interest to improve our understanding to provide more efficient intervention programs. The aim of this study was to examine the patterns of MVPA in Spanish school children measured by accelerometers and determine if there were differences between overweight/obese vs non overweight/obese children.

Methods A total of 665 children (438 9 year old [214 boys, 224 girls] and 227 15 year old [101 girls and 126 boys]) from private and state schools in Madrid, Spain participated in the study. The variables measured were: anthropometric characteristics (height, weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and sum of 4 skinfold thickness). PA was measured during 4 consecutive days using the GT1M accelerometer. Fatness was estimated from BMI and dichotomized using cut-points of International Obesity Task Force (IOTF).

Results We found that 72.4% 9 year old boys and 49.6% 9 year old girls, and 39.7% and 29.7% 15 year old boys and girls respectively, achieved the level of MVPA recommended for health. Non overweight children (both 9 and 15 year old) achieved significantly (pMVPA were found in overweight/obesity children by age groups. Non-overweight 9 year old boys and girls achieved significantly.

Conclusion Few children achieved the level of MVPA recommended for health: at particular risk were all 15 yr old children and overweight and obese 9 yr old children. More effort needs to be devoted to promoting appropriate opportunities for Spanish overweight and obese children across the day and to promoting PA during weekends for all children.


  • Laguna, M.
  • Lara-Hernández, M.T.
  • Ruiz, J.R.
  • Aznar, S.


  • University of Castilla La Mancha

Presented at

ECSS 2011


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