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Melissa Rittenhouse, Sarah-Jeanne Salvy and Jacob E. Barkley

The purpose of this study was to determine the amount of physical and sedentary activity normal-weight and at-risk-for/overweight boys perform when alone, with a peer of similar weight and with a peer of different weight. Participants included boys, ages 8–12 years, classified as either normal-weight (<85th BMI percentile; N = 12) or at-risk-for/overweight (<85th BMI percentile; N = 12). At-risk-for/overweight boys allocated a greater amount of time to sedentary activities and accumulated fewer accelerometer counts than normal-weight boys in the alone condition. Once paired with a peer of either similar or different weight there were no differences between groups. These results indicate the presence of an unknown peer has a positive effect on at-risk-for/overweight children’s physical activity behavior.

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Mallory S. Kobak, Andrew Lepp, Michael J. Rebold, Hannah Faulkner, Shannon Martin and Jacob E. Barkley

Background: Mobile Internet-connected electronic devices provide access to activities that have traditionally been associated with sedentary behavior. Because they are portable, these devices can be utilized in any environment. Therefore, providing children with access to these devices in environments that typically promote physical activity may result in a reduction in physical activity behavior. Purpose: To assess children’s physical and sedentary (ie, sitting) activity with and without the presence of a mobile Internet-connected tablet computer. Methods: A total of 20 children [6.7 (1.9) y old] participated in 2 simulated recess conditions in a gymnasium on separate days. During each condition, children had free-choice access physical activity options and a table of sedentary activities for 40 minutes. During 1 session, the iPad was present, and in the other session, it was not. Physical activity was monitored via an accelerometer, and sedentary time was monitored via a stopwatch. Results: Children significantly (P ≤ .03) reduced average physical activity intensity and increased their sedentary behavior with the iPad present [4.4 (4.0) metabolic equivalents/min and 20.9 (12.4) min sitting] versus the condition without the iPad present [5.3 (4.0) metabolic equivalents/min and 13.6 (13.2) min sitting]. Conclusion: Introducing an mobile Internet-connected tablet computer into a gymnasium reduced children’s physical activity intensity by 17% and increased sedentary behavior by 54%.

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Gabriel J. Sanders, Judith Juvancic-Heltzel, Megan L. Williamson, James N. Roemmich, Denise M. Feda and Jacob E. Barkley


Increasing autonomy by manipulating the choice of available physical activity options in a laboratory setting can increase physical activity in older children and adults. However, the effect of manipulating the number of physically active choices has yet to be examined in young children in a gymnasium environment.


Twenty children (n = 10 girls, 6.1 ± 1.4 years old) individually participated in 2 [low choice (LC), high choice (HC)] free-choice activity conditions for 30 minutes in a 4360 square foot gymnasium. Children had access to 2 or 8 physical activity options in the LC and HC conditions, respectively. Physical activity behavior was measured via accelerometry.


Children’s 30-minute accelerometer counts increased (P < .03) from the LC (2675 ± 294 counts·min-1) to the HC (3224 ± 280 counts·min-1) condition.


Providing greater autonomy through choice of a greater number of physically active options increased young children’s physical activity participation by 20.5%.

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James N. Roemmich, Christina L. Lobarinas, Jacob E. Barkley, Tressa M. White, Rocco Paluch and Leonard H. Epstein

This study evaluated the effectiveness of an open-loop system that reinforces physical activity with TV watching to increase children’s physical activity. Nonoverweight, sedentary boys and girls (8–12 y) were randomized to a group that received feedback of activity counts + reinforcement for physical activity by providing access to television (F+R, n = 20); or to feedback, no reinforcement (Feedback, n = 20) or no feedback, no reinforcement control (Control, n = 21) groups. Children wore an accelerometer with a count display for 4-months with a 1-year follow-up. F+R reduced TV by 68 min/day and TV time was lower than the Feedback (p < .005) and Control (p < .002) groups. TV time of F+R remained 31 min lower (p < .02) than baseline at 1-year. F+R had a 44% increase in physical activity, which was greater than the feedback (p < .04) and control (p < .01) groups. An open-loop system decreases TV viewing and increases physical activity of children for 4-months. TV of the F+R group remained lower at 12 months, suggesting a reduction in screen-time habits.