Objective vs. Self-report Sedentary Behavior in Overweight and Obese Young Adults

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Sedentary behavior (SED) has been measured almost exclusively by self-reported total SED or television time in longitudinal studies. This manuscript aimed to compare self-reported vs. objectively measured SED.


Among overweight and obese young adults enrolled in a weight loss trial, baseline SED was assessed by 3 methods: 1) a questionnaire assessing 8 common SEDs (SEDQ), 2) 1 question assessing SED from the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (SEDGPAQ), and 3) a monitor worn on the arm (SEDOBJ). In addition, television time (SEDTV) was isolated from the SEDQ. SED measures were compared using Spearman’s correlations, signed-rank tests, and Bland-Altman plots.


In 448 participants, SEDQ and SEDGPAQ were only weakly associated with SEDOBJ (rs = 0.21; P < .001, rs = 0.32; P < .001, respectively). Compared with SEDOBJ, SEDQ more often overestimated SEDOBJ (median difference: 1.1 hours/day; P < .001), while SEDGPAQ more often underestimated SEDOBJ (median difference: –0.7 hours/day; P < .001). The correlation between SEDTV and SEDOBJ was not significantly different from 0 (rs = 0.08; P = .08).


SEDQ and SEDGPAQ were weakly correlated with, and significantly different from, SEDOBJ in overweight and obese young adults. SEDTV was not related to SEDOBJ. The poor associations of self-reported and objectively measured SED could affect interpretation and comparison across studies relating SED to adverse health outcomes.

Barone Gibbs (bbarone@pitt.edu), Davis, Rickman, Rogers, and Jakicic are with the Dept of Health and Physical Activity; Wahed is with the Dept of Biostatistics; King and Belle are with the Dept of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health; University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.