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Objective - Pedometer

215. Pedometer-Measured Physical Activity Patterns of Youth: A 13-Country Review

Research Article
Beets, Michael W
February 2010

Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2010, 38:208-216

Commentary by Petra Harries, Heart Foundation

Research indicates there is an increase in children and adolescents who are physically inactive world wide, with considerable disparities among countries.  With this increase in physical inactivity there is an increase in the rate of overweight and obesity in young people, making insufficient physical activity in young people aged 5 – 18 years a global public health issue.  The purpose of this study was to review studies that used pedometers to measure physical activity to explore the physical activity patterns of young people around the world.

This systematic review was conducted using peer review articles that were published by April 2009, and reported the daily pedometer steps of child and adolescent boys and girls separately, and reported steps per day in age groupings no more than 4 years (e.g. 5-8 years).  The inverse variance weighted estimates were calculated for each country, as well as the random effects models.  A total of 43 studies, across 13 countries were included in the review. 

Comparisons among individual countries were not possible due to the limited sample size and ages represented in the majority of the studies.  Therefore countries were places into regional groupings as follows: Wester Pacific (Australia and New Zealand); Europe (Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Greece, Czech Republic, United Kingdom); the America’s (Canada and the United States); and Other (Saudi Arabia and China). The United States had the highest number of studies (30%).

The review found clear differences in the physical activity levels of young people from individual countries and regions, which is consistent with studies examining worldwide decline in cardiovascular fitness and the prevalence of overweight youth.  Overall, boys and girls from the United States showed the lowest physical activity values in comparison with all countries.  Youth in European and Western Pacific Countries showed much greater steps count per day that people from the Americas.  Results also indicated girls did significantly less physical activity in research over weekend and weekdays in comparison to weekdays only.

The research was limited by its small sample size, and few studies designed to collect data on a nationally representative sample.  Despite this, the findings are useful in providing information regarding the patterning of physical activity among countries.  Global monitoring of population levels of physical activity in youth can be used to assist public health advocates and policy makers identify model countries that can inform public health planning in less-active countries. 

Access to this article will depend on your institutional right. For the full article, visit http://www.ajpm-online.net/article/S0749-3797(09)00772-7/abstract