Researchers have discovered that participation in physical
activity of at least moderate intensity is more critical to childhood
cardiometabolic health than overall sedentary time. However, when evaluating
the risk of cardiovascular disease, screen time appears to be worse than
overall sedentary time.
As members of Team Prodigy, an inter-university research
team that includes researchers from the University of Ottawa, University of
Montreal, McGill University, and Laval University, researchers at the
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute set out to
examine how time spent doing moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity
(MVPA) and time spent in sedentary behaviour affects the risk of cardiovascular
disease in children.
“Although results in this study suggest that in children,
time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity appears more important
than time spent in sedentary activities, with regard to cardiometabolic health,
both increasing children’s participation in physical activity and reducing
their screen-related sedentary time are important public health targets to
achieve,” said first author, Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput, who is a researcher at
the CHEO Research Institute and a cross-appointed professor at the University
How the study was
This cross-sectional study involved over 500 participants
between the ages of 8 and 10. The measured outcomes included waist
circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting triglycerides,
high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and glucose concentrations.
Higher levels of MVPA were associated with lower waist
circumference, fasting triglycerides and diastolic blood pressure, and higher
HDL cholesterol, irrespective of sedentary time. In contrast, sedentary time
was positively associated with diastolic blood pressure, but after adjustment
for MVPA, the association was no longer statistically significant.
Self-reported screen time was positively associated with waist circumference
and negatively associated with HDL cholesterol independent of MVPA.
“Today we’re offering empirical evidence that to reduce
cardiovascular disease risk in children, being physically active throughout the
day is probably more important than limiting sitting time,” continued Dr.
This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Fonds de le
Recherche en Santé du Québec.