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      Original research Socio-demographic patterning of self-reported physical activity and sitting time in Latin American countries: findings from ELANS

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          Low levels of physical activity (PA) and prolonged sitting time (ST) increase the risk of non-communicable diseases and mortality, and can be influenced by socio-demographic characteristics. The aim of this study was to use self-report data to characterise socio-demographic patterns of PA and ST in eight Latin American countries.


          Data were obtained from the Latin American Study of Nutrition and Health (ELANS), a household population-based, multi-national, cross-sectional survey ( n = 9218, aged 15–65 years), collected from September 2014 to February 2015. Transport and leisure PA and ST were assessed using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire–long version. Overall and country-specific mean and median levels of time spent in transport and leisure PA and ST were compared by sex, age, socioeconomic and education level.


          Mean levels of transport and leisure PA were 220.3 min/week (ranging from 177.6 min/week in Venezuela to 275.3 min/week in Costa Rica) and 316.4 min/week (ranging from 272.1 min/week in Peru to 401.4 min/week in Ecuador). Transport and leisure PA were higher ( p < 0.005) in men than women with mean differences of 58.0 and 34.0 min/week. The mean and median for transport PA were similar across age groups (15–29 years: mean 215.5 and median 120 min/week; 30–59 years: mean 225.0 and median 120 min/week; ≥60 years: mean 212.0 and median 120 min/week). The median time spent in transport and leisure PA between three strata of socioeconomic and education levels were similar. The prevalence of not meeting PA recommendations were 69.9% (95% CI: 68.9–70.8) for transport and 72.8% (95% CI: 72.0–73.7) for leisure. Men, younger people (15–29 years), individuals with higher socioeconomic and education levels spent significantly ( p < 0.001) more time sitting than women, older people (30–59 years and ≥ 60 years) and those in the middle and low socioeconomic and education groups, respectively.


          Transport and leisure PA and ST range widely by country, sex, and age group in Latin America. Programs for promoting leisure and transport PA and reducing ST in Latin America should consider these differences by age and gender and between countries.

          Trial registration

          ClinicalTrials.Gov NCT02226627. Retrospectively registered on August 27, 2014.

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          Most cited references 36

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          The descriptive epidemiology of sitting. A 20-country comparison using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ).

          Recent epidemiologic evidence points to the health risks of prolonged sitting, that are independent of physical activity, but few papers have reported the descriptive epidemiology of sitting in population studies with adults. This paper reports the prevalence of "high sitting time" and its correlates in an international study in 20 countries. Representative population samples from 20 countries were collected 2002-2004, and a question was asked on usual weekday hours spent sitting. This question was part of the International Prevalence Study, using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). The sitting measure has acceptable reliability and validity. Daily sitting time was compared among countries, and by age group, gender, educational attainment, and physical activity. Data were available for 49,493 adults aged 18-65 years from 20 countries. The median reported sitting time was 300 minutes/day, with an interquartile range of 180-480 minutes. Countries reporting the lowest amount of sitting included Portugal, Brazil, and Colombia (medians ≤180 min/day), whereas adults in Taiwan, Norway, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and Japan reported the highest sitting times (medians ≥360 min/day). In adjusted analyses, adults aged 40-65 years were significantly less likely to be in the highest quintile for sitting than adults aged 18-39 years (AOR=0.796), and those with postschool education had higher sitting times compared with those with high school or less education (OR=1.349). Physical activity showed an inverse relationship, with those reporting low activity on the IPAQ three times more likely to be in the highest-sitting quintile compared to those reporting high physical activity. Median sitting time varied widely across countries. Assessing sitting time is an important new area for preventive medicine, in addition to assessing physical activity and sedentary behaviors. Population surveys that monitor lifestyle behaviors should add measures of sitting time to physical activity surveillance. Moreover, the use of objective measures to capture the spectrum of sedentary (sitting) and physical activity behaviors is encouraged, particularly in low- and middle-income countries commencing new surveillance activities. Copyright © 2011 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. All rights reserved.
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            Worldwide variability in physical inactivity a 51-country survey.

            Physical inactivity is an important risk factor for chronic diseases, but for many (mainly developing) countries, no prevalence data have ever been published. To present data on the prevalence of physical inactivity for 51 countries and for different age groups and settings across these countries. Data analysis (conducted in 2007) included data from 212,021 adult participants whose questionnaires were culled from 259,526 adult observations from 51 countries participating in the World Health Survey (2002-2003). The validated International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was used to assess days and duration of vigorous, moderate, and walking activities during the last 7 days. Country prevalence of physical inactivity ranged from 1.6% (Comoros) to 51.7% (Mauritania) for men and from 3.8% (Comoros) to 71.2% (Mauritania) for women. Physical inactivity was generally high for older age groups and lower in rural as compared to urban areas. Overall, about 15% of men and 20% of women from the 51 countries analyzed here (most of which are developing countries) are at risk for chronic diseases due to physical inactivity. There were substantial variations across countries and settings. The baseline information on the magnitude of the problem of physical inactivity provided by this study can help countries and health policymakers to set up interventions addressing the global chronic disease epidemic.
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              Addressing overreporting on the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) telephone survey with a population sample.

              To examine a possible problem of overreporting and to describe the degree of error with the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) short telephone protocol. Cross-sectional study, using two different physical activity (PA) self-report protocols. Telephone interviews about PA in Belgium. Fifty adults who had previously been interviewed with IPAQ in a national survey. Seventy-five per cent reported less PA with the modified procedure than with the IPAQ. Twenty-three of the 50 individuals were found to have reported some amounts of PA with the IPAQ (either walking, or vigorous or moderate PA) when they should have reported none. In total, based on their revised reports of PA, 50% fewer persons met PA recommendations than was the case with IPAQ. The overreporting could not be related to types of error-prone individuals. Overreporting of PA in population samples is a serious problem that could be reduced by implementing procedure changes without changing the IPAQ items themselves.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                23 December 2019
                23 December 2019
                : 19
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0487 8785, GRID grid.412199.6, Centro de Investigación en Fisiologia del Ejercicio – CIFE, , Universidad Mayor, ; José Toribio Medina, 29. Estacion Central, Santiago, Chile
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0514 7202, GRID grid.411249.b, Departamento de Pediatria da Universidade Federal de São Paulo, ; São Paulo, Brazil
                [3 ]Commitee of Nutrition and Wellbeing, International Life Science Institute (ILSI-Argentina), Buenos Aires, Argentina
                [4 ]Instituto Pensi, Fundação José Luiz Egydio Setubal, Hospital Infantil Sabará, São Paulo, Brazil
                [5 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1937 0706, GRID grid.412889.e, Departamento de Bioquímica, Escuela de Medicina, , Universidad de Costa Rica, ; San José, Costa Rica
                [6 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2157 0406, GRID grid.7870.8, Centro de Nutrición Molecular y Enfermedades Crónicas, Departamento de Nutrición, Diabetes y Metabolismo, Escuela de Medicina, , Pontificia Universidad Católica, ; Santiago, Chile
                [7 ]ISNI 0000 0001 1033 6040, GRID grid.41312.35, Departamento de Nutrición y Bioquímica, , Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, ; Bogotá, Colombia
                [8 ]ISNI 0000 0000 9008 4711, GRID grid.412251.1, Colégio de Ciencias de la Salud, , Universidad San Francisco de Quito, ; Quito, Ecuador
                [9 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2236 6140, GRID grid.419080.4, Instituto de Investigación Nutricional, ; La Molina, Lima, Peru
                [10 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2155 0982, GRID grid.8171.f, Centro de Estudios del Desarrollo, , Universidad Central de Venezuela (CENDES-UCV)/Fundación Bengoa, ; Caracas, Venezuela
                [11 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0514 7202, GRID grid.411249.b, Departamento de Psicobiologia, , Universidade Federal de São Paulo, ; São Paulo, Brazil
                [12 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2107 4242, GRID grid.266100.3, Institute for Public Health, , University of California San Diego, ; La Jolla, CA USA
                [13 ]ISNI 0000000419368956, GRID grid.168010.e, Health Research & Policy Department and the Stanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine, , Stanford University School of Medicine, ; Stanford, CA USA
                © The Author(s). 2019

                Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: FundRef, Coca-Cola;
                Funded by: FundRef, Foundation for the National Institutes of Health;
                Award ID: NCT02226627
                Award Recipient :
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2019

                Public health

                public health, epidemiology, physical activity, sitting time, self-report


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