Trajectories of Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Childhood Overweight: Longitudinal Analysis of the IDEFICS/I.Family Cohort

Ole Sprengeler, Hermann Pohlabeln*, Karin Bammann, Christoph Buck, Fabio Lauria, Vera Verbestel, Gabriele Eiben, Kenn Konstabel, Dénes Molnar, Luis Alberto Moreno, Yannis Pitsiladis, Angie S. Page, Lucia A. Reisch, Michael Tornaritis, Wolfgang Ahrens, On behalf of the IDEFICS consortium, I.Family Consortium

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

74 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Since only few longitudinal studies with appropriate study designs investigated the relationship between objectively measured physical activity (PA) and overweight, the degree PA can prevent excess weight gain in children, remains unclear. Moreover, evidence is limited on how childhood overweight determines PA during childhood. Therefore, we analyzed longitudinal trajectories of objectively measured PA and their bi-directional association with weight trajectories of children at 2- and 6-year follow-ups.
Methods: Longitudinal data of three subsequent measurements from the IDEFICS/I.Family cohort study were used to analyze the bi-directional association between moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and weight status by means of multilevel regression models. Analyses comprised 3393 (2-year follow-up) and 1899 (6-year follow-up) children aged 2–15.9 years from eight European countries with valid accelerometer data and body mass index (BMI) measurements. For categorized analyses, children’s weight status was categorized as normal weight or overweight (cutoff: 90th percentile of BMI) and children’s PA as (in-) sufficiently active (cutoffs: 30, 45 and 60 min of MVPA per day).

Results: Children engaging in at least 60 min MVPA daily at baseline and follow-ups had a lower odds of becoming overweight (odds ratio [OR] at 2-year follow-up: 0.546, 95% CI: 0.378, 0.789 and 6-year follow-up: 0.393, 95% CI: 0.242, 0.638), compared to less active children. Similar associations were found for 45 min MVPA daily. On the other side, children who became overweight had the lowest odds to achieve 45 or 60 min MVPA daily (ORs: 0.459 to 0.634), compared to normal weight children.
Conclusions: Bi-directional associations between MVPA and weight status were observed. In summary, at least 60 min MVPA are still recommended for the prevention of childhood overweight. To prevent excess weight gain, 45 min MVPA per day also showed preventive effects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Health-enhancing physical activity
  • Pediatric overweight
  • Obesity prevention
  • Dose-response relationship
  • Physical activity recommendations

Cite this