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Sedentary behaviour in youth
  1. Russell R Pate,
  2. Jonathan A Mitchell,
  3. Wonwoo Byun,
  4. Marsha Dowda
  1. Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Russell R Pate, Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly St, Suite 212, Columbia, SC 29208, USA; rpate{at}


The purpose of this review is to describe the amount of time children spend in sedentary behaviour and to determine if there are specific factors that associate with sedentary behaviour in children. The following search terms were used to identify relevant articles: sedentary behaviour, inactivity, television, computer, video games, small screen, sitting, prevalence, patterns, correlates, factors and determinants. The databases used to conduct the search included PubMed, PsycINFO, ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) and Academic Search Premier. The studies reviewed were limited to those that sampled children (2–18 years), were written in English and used a measure of sedentary behaviour as the dependent variable. Several studies reported the time spent watching television or the proportion of children at or above a threshold for television viewing (eg, ≥3 h/day). Among the accelerometer studies included, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is the largest and reported ∼6.1, 7.5 and 8.0 h/day mean sedentary time in children 6–11, 12–15 and 16–19 years old, respectively. Taken together, the existing literature across the world indicates a slightly higher level of sedentary behaviour in older children. Higher levels of sedentary behaviour were also reported in non-white children, children from lower socioeconomic status background and children from households with more access to televisions/computers. Lower levels of sedentary behaviour were reported in children whose parents have rules/limitations on screen time.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.