Activity Profiles and the Associations With Weight Status in Population Studies of Young Children: Are There Gender Differences?

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 University of Limerick
  • 2 Athlone Institute of Technology
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Profiling activity behaviors in young children is important to understand changes in weight status over time. The purpose of this study is to identify activity profiles from self- and parental-reported Physical Activity (PA) and Sedentary Behavior (SB) variables by gender, and determine if the identified profiles are predictive of weight change from age 9–13 years.


Cluster analysis was used to generate activity profiles for the National Longitudinal Study of 8570 9-year-old children (Growing Up in Ireland).


5.4% of boys were found to be obese. Four cohesive activity profiles were identified for boys, with 7.3% of boys in the least active group identified as obese compared with 4.1% in the most active group. The odds of a normal weight 9-year-old boy in the least active profile becoming overweight or obese at age 13 were over twice those in most active profile (OR = 2.5, 95% CI: 1.9, 3.5). No coherent activity profiles were identified for girls.


This study suggests that self- and parental-reported data can identify meaningful activity profiles for boys, which are predictive of weight changes over time. Future research should consider potential gender differences in self- and parental-reported PA and SB variables.

O’Neill, Walsh, and Purtill are with the Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Limerick, Ireland. Dowd is with the Dept. of Sport and Health, School of Science, Athlone Institute of Technology, Ireland. O’Gorman and Hannigan are with the Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick, Ireland.

Address author correspondence to Aoife O’Neill to