Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Utility of accelerometers to measure physical activity in children attending an obesity treatment intervention

By Wendy Robertson, Sarah L. Stewart-Brown, Elizabeth Wilcock, Michelle Oldfield and Margaret Thorogood


Objectives. To investigate the use of accelerometers to monitor change in physical activity in a childhood obesity treatment intervention. Methods. 28 children aged 7–13 taking part in “Families for Health” were asked to wear an accelerometer (Actigraph) for 7-days, and complete an accompanying activity diary, at baseline, 3-months and 9-months. Interviews with 12 parents asked about research measurements. Results. Over 90% of children provided 4 days of accelerometer data, and around half of children provided 7 days. Adequately completed diaries were collected from 60% of children. Children partake in a wide range of physical activity which uniaxial monitors may undermonitor (cycling, nonmotorised scootering) or overmonitor (trampolining). Two different cutoffs (4 METS or 3200 counts⋅min-1) for minutes spent in moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) yielded very different results, although reached the same conclusion regarding a lack of change in MVPA after the intervention. Some children were unwilling to wear accelerometers at school and during sport because they felt they put them at risk of stigma and bullying. Conclusion. Accelerometers are acceptable to a majority of children, although their use at school is problematic for some, but they may underestimate children's physical activity

Topics: QP
Publisher: Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Year: 2011
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2005). A timely meeting: objective measurement of physical activity,” doi
  2. (2007). Accelerometers and pedometers: methodology and clinical application,” Current Opinion doi
  3. (2008). Assessment of physical activity in youth,” doi
  4. (1990). Body mass index reference curves for the UK, doi
  5. (2005). Calibration of accelerometer output for children,” doi
  6. (2007). Calibration of an accelerometer during free-living activities in children,” doi
  7. (2005). Conducting accelerometer-based activity assessments in field-based research,” doi
  8. Feasibility of using accelerometers to measure physical activity in young adolescents,” Medicine and ScienceinSportsandExercise,vol.37,no.5,pp.867–871,2005. doi
  9. (2003). Habitual physical activity in children and adolescents during school and free days,” doi
  10. (2004). Health, “At least five a week : evidence on the impact of physical activity and its relationship to health. A report from the Chief Medical Officer,” doi
  11. (2005). Human vibration on a trampoline,”
  12. (2004). M a t h i e ,A .C .F .C o s t e r ,N .H .L o v e l l ,a n dB .G .C e l l e r , “Accelerometry: providing an integrated, practical method for long-term, ambulatory monitoring of human movement,” doi
  13. (2005). Mˆ a s s e ,B .F .F u e m m e l e r ,C .B .A n d e r s o ne ta l . , “Accelerometer data reduction: a comparison of four reduction algorithms on select outcome variables,”
  14. (2007). Mixed methods sampling: a typology with examples,” doi
  15. (2006). Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity among children: discrepancies in accelerometry-based cut-off points,” doi
  16. (2006). Monitoring of physical activity in young children: how much is enough?”
  17. (2007). Objective measurement of levels and patterns of physical activity,” doi
  18. (2007). Objectively assessed associations between physical activity and body composition in middle-school girls,” doi
  19. (2002). P u y a u ,A .L .A d o l p h ,F .A .V o h r a ,a n dN .F .B u t t e , “Validation and calibration of physical activity monitors in children,” doi
  20. (1991). Physical activity patterns defined by continuous heart rate monitoring,” doi
  21. (2008). Pilot of “families for health”: community-based family intervention for obesity,” doi
  22. (2006). Predictive validity of three ActiGraph energy expenditure equations for children,” doi
  23. (1993). Qualitative data analysis for applied policyresearch,”inAnalysingQualitativeData,A.Brymanand
  24. (2008). R e i l l y ,V .P e n p r a z e ,J .H i s l o p ,G .D a v i e s ,S .G r a n t doi
  25. (2010). Social Research Council, “Framework for Research Ethics
  26. (2005). The broader impact of walking to school among adolescents: seven day accelerometry based study,” doi
  27. (2008). Use of accelerometers in a large field-based study of children: protocols, design issues, and effects on precision,”
  28. (2010). Utility of the RT3 triaxial accelerometer in free living: an investigation of adherence anddataloss,”AppliedErgonomics, doi
  29. (2003). Validity and reliability of activity measures doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.