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Background The evidence regarding the unique effect of sedentary behaviour on obesity among children is unclear. Moreover, the effect of substituting sedentary behaviour with physical activity of different intensities on the body composition of children has received limited empirical study. Objective To examine the mathematical effects on Body Mass Index (BMI) of substituting sedentary behaviours with physical activities of different intensities on children and youth aged 5–14 years old in New Zealand. Methods Secondary analysis of accelerometer data from the National Survey of Children and Young People’s Physical Activity and Dietary Behaviours in New Zealand (2008/09) was conducted. A total of 1812 children and youth aged 5–24 years provided accelerometer-derived data on daily sedentary time (SB), light intensity physical activity (LPA) and moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Sleep time was assessed with a validated computerised use-of-time tool. BMI was assessed using anthropometric measurements. Multiple linear regression models were used to examine the independent associations of SB, Sleep time, LPA, and MVPA on BMI. The isotemporal substitution approach was used to ascertain the mathematical effect of substituting each of the other behaviours on BMI. Analyses were stratified by age groups. Results SB showed a unique (inverse) association with BMI across all age groups (p0.05). Similarly, MVPA was positively associated (pgroups. Among age groups 5–9 years, 10–14 years and 15–19 years, the estimated impact of replacing 60 min/day of SB with the same amount of MVPA time resulted in decreased BMI for all age groups (p < 0.001), ranging from -1.26 (5–9 years) to -1.43 units (15–19 years). Similar results were achieved when SB was replaced with LPA or sleeping time for children (5–19 years). In young people (age group 20–24), the impact of replacing 30 min/ day of SB with MVPA resulted in an estimated -1 BMI units decrease (p < 0.001). Conclusion MVPA and SB have a unique effect on BMI. Further, substituting SB with LPA or MVPA was associated with a favourable effect on BMI across all age groups; with MVPA having the strongest association


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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