Methodological considerations in using accelerometers to assess habitual physical activity in children aged 0-5 years

Child Obesity Research Centre, University of Wollongong, Australia.
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (Impact Factor: 3.19). 02/2009; 12(5):557-67. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2008.10.008
Source: PubMed


This paper reviews the evidence behind the methodological decisions accelerometer users make when assessing habitual physical activity in children aged 0-5 years. The purpose of the review is to outline an evidence-guided protocol for using accelerometry in young children and to identify gaps in the evidence base where further investigation is required. Studies evaluating accelerometry methodologies in young children were reviewed in two age groups (0-2 years and 3-5 years) to examine: (i) which accelerometer should be used, (ii) where the accelerometer should be placed, (iii) which epoch should be used, (iv) how many days of monitoring are required, (v) how many minutes of monitoring per day are required, (vi) how data should be reduced, (vii) which cut-point definitions for identifying activity intensity should be used, and (viii) which physical activity outcomes should be reported and how. Critique of the available evidence provided a basis for the development of a recommended users protocol in 3-5-year olds, although several issues require further research. Because of the absence of methodological studies in children under 3 years, a protocol for the use of accelerometers in this age range could not be specified. Formative studies examining the utility, feasibility and validity of accelerometer-based physical activity assessments are required in children under 3 years of age. Recommendations for further research are outlined, based on the above findings, which, if undertaken, will enhance the accuracy of accelerometer-based assessments of habitual physical activity in young children.

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    • "The accelerometer collects data known as activity Bcounts^ measured in time sampling intervals or epochs (Cliff et al. 2009). Measurements with the Actigraph accelerometer have been found to be valid, and reliable in children aged 3–5 years (Cliff et al. 2009 "
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    • "Differences in PA between children in the intervention group and those in the control group are investigated by using an Actigraph GT3X + accelerometer for a period of one week, when children reach the age of four. Accelerometers provide objective measurements of PA and sedentary lifestyle [31,32], but, so far, there is limited research on suitable cut-off points between different levels of PA among preschool children. Up until now, the cut-off points suggested by Butte et al. [33] seem to be the most appropriate for predicting PA using tri-axial accelerometers; for preschool children: sedentary ≤ 100 counts per minute (cpm); light 101-3907 cpm; moderate/vigorous ≥ 3908 cpm [33]. "
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