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Erin Kaye Howie, Timothy Olds, Joanne A. McVeigh, Rebecca A. Abbott, and Leon Straker

Background:

The detailed patterns of physical activity and sedentary behaviors of overweight and obese adolescents are unknown, but may be important for health outcomes and targeted intervention design.

Methods:

Participants completed Curtin University’s Activity, Food and Attitudes Program (CAFAP), an 8-week intervention with 12 months of maintenance intervention. Physical activity and sedentary time were assessed at 6 time periods with accelerometers and were analyzed by 1) time and type of day, 2) intensity bout patterns using exposure variation analysis, and 3) individual case analysis.

Results:

Participants (n = 56) spent a lower percentage of time at baseline in light activity during school days compared with weekend days (24.4% vs 29.0%, P = .004). The majority of time was in long uninterrupted sedentary bouts of greater than 30 minutes (26.7% of total time, 36.8% of sedentary time at baseline). Moderate activity was accumulated in short bouts of less than 5 minutes (3.1% of total time, 76.0% moderate time). Changes varied by individuals.

Conclusions:

Exposure variation analysis revealed specific changes in activity patterns in overweight and obese adolescents who participated in a lifestyle intervention. A better understanding of these patterns can help to design interventions that meaningfully affect specific behaviors, with unique health consequences.

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Rebecca A. Abbott, Doune Macdonald, Smita Nambiar, and Peter S.W. Davies

Objective measurement of daily steps was used to assess whether children (n = 2,076) in Years 1, 5 and 10 who reported walking to or from school were more active and more likely to reach recommended step targets than those who were driven or took public transport to school. Walking to school was associated with higher school-day steps in older children (16,238 vs 15,275 for Year 5 male p < .05, 13,521 vs 12,502 for Year 5 female p < .01, 12,109 vs 11,373 for Year 10 female p < .05). The proportion of children who met recommended step thresholds was higher in those who walked to school compared with those who took motorized transport, and this was significant for Year 5 females (71.7% vs 54.5%, p < .01). This study suggests that walking to school for older children has potential to contribute significantly to daily activity levels and increases the likelihood of attaining recommended step targets. These data should encourage public policy and those concerned with the built environment to provide and support opportunities for walking to school.