Activity Patterns of Preschool-Aged Children at Risk for Obesity

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Although the prevalence of obesity in young children highlights the importance of early interventions to promote physical activity (PA), there are limited data on activity patterns in this age group. The purpose of this study was to describe activity patterns in preschool-aged children and explore differences by weight status.


Analyses use baseline data from Healthy Homes/Healthy Kids–Preschool, a pilot obesity prevention trial of preschool-aged children who are overweight or at risk for being overweight. A modified parent-reported version of the previous-day PA recall was used to summarize types of activity. Accelerometry was used to summarize daily and hourly activity patterns.


“Playing with toys” accounted for the largest proportion of a child’s previous day, followed by “meals and snacks” and “chores.” Accelerometry-measured daily time spent in sedentary behavior, light PA, and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) was 412, 247, and 69 minutes, respectively. Percentage of hourly time spent in MVPA ranged from 3% to 13%, peaking in the late morning and evening hours. There were no statistically significant MVPA differences by weight status.


This study extends our understanding of activity types, amounts, and patterns in preschool-aged children and warrants further exploration of differences in PA patterns by weight status.

Senso (, Crain, Seburg, Anderson, and Sherwood are with the HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research, Minneapolis, MN. Trost is with the School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.