Research Study Abstract

Epidemiological Transition in Physical Activity and Sedentary Time in Children

  • Published on May, 2019

To determine if children’s moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary time varied across levels of household income in countries at different levels of Human Development Index (HDI), consistent with the theory of epidemiological transition.

Data from 6548 children (55% girls) aged 9–11 years from 12 countries at different HDI levels are used in this analysis to assess MVPA and sedentary time (measured using ActiGraph accelerometers) across levels of household income. Least-square means are estimated separately for boys and girls at the estimated 10th, 50th, and 90th percentiles of HDI for the sample.

For boys, time in MVPA is negatively associated with income at the 10th and 50th percentiles of HDI (both P < .002). For girls, time in MVPA is negatively associated with income at the 10th and 50th percentiles of HDI (all P < .01) and positively related with income at the 90th percentile (P = .04). Sedentary time is positively associated with income at the 10th percentile of HDI for boys (P = .03), but not for girls.

Results support the possibility of an epidemiological transition in physical activity, with lower levels of MVPA observed at opposite levels of income depending on the HDI percentile. This phenomenon was not observed for sedentary time.


  • Tiago V. Barreira 1,2
  • Stephanie T. Broyles 2
  • Catrine Tudor-Locke 2,3
  • Jean-Philippe Chaput 4
  • Mikael Fogelholm 5
  • Gang Hu 2
  • Rebecca Kuriyan 6
  • Estelle V. Lambert 7
  • Carol A. Maher 8
  • José A. Maia 9
  • Timothy Olds 8
  • Vincent Onywera 10
  • Olga L. Sarmiento 11
  • Martyn Standage 12
  • Mark S. Tremblay 4
  • Peter T. Katzmarzyk 2


  • 1

    Department of Exercise Science, University of Syracuse, Syracuse, NY, USA.

  • 2

    Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA, USA

  • 3

    Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA

  • 4

    Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

  • 5

    Department of Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

  • 6

    St. John’s Research Institute, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

  • 7

    Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

  • 8

    Alliance for Research in Exercise Nutrition and Activity (ARENA), School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

  • 9

    CIFI2D, Faculdade de Desporto, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

  • 10

    Department of Recreation Management and Exercise Science, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya

  • 11

    School of Medicine, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia

  • 12

    Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom


Journal of Physical Activity and Health


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