Accelerometer Response to Physical Activity Intensity in Normal-Weight Versus Overweight African American Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Different movement efficiency in overweight children may affect accelerometer output data. The purpose was to investigate the ability of accelerometers to assess physical activity intensity and number of steps in normal-weight compared with overweight children.


Eleven normal-weight and 14 overweight African American children walked at 2, 4, 5, and 6 km/h on a treadmill wearing Lifecorder, ActiGraph, RT3, and Biotrainer. Oxygen uptake was measured and steps manually counted. Fat free mass (FFM) was assessed from bioelectrical impedance analysis. Accelerometer counts and the individual linear regression lines of accelerometer counts versus VO2/FFM were evaluated, together with steps recorded by Lifecorder and Actigraph.


Correlations between accelerometer counts and VO2/FFM for all monitors were r ≥ .95 (P < .01). The accelerometer counts and their relationship to VO2/FFM did not generally differ significantly by body weight status. Lifecorder and Actigraph underestimated steps at 4, 5, and 6 km/h by less than 9%, but the error was up to −95% at 2 km/h.


All 4 accelerometers show high ability to assess physical activity intensity, and can be used to compare physical activity between normal-weight and overweight children. The Lifecorder and the ActiGraph showed high accuracy in assessing steps, providing speed of movement exceeded 2 km/h.

Arvidsson is with the Center for Primary Health Care Research, Institution for Clinical Sciences, Malmö, Sweden. Fitch, Hudes, and Fleming are with the Dept of Nutritional Science and Toxicology, College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley. Tudor-Locke is with the Walking Behavior Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA.