Sedentary behaviour (e.g. TV viewing, seated video game playing, prolonged sitting) has recently emerged as a distinct risk factor for cardiometabolic diseases in children and youth. This narrative review provides an overview of recent evidence in this area and highlights research gaps. Current evidence suggests that North American children and youth spend between 40% and 60% of their waking hours engaging in sedentary pursuits. Although data are lacking concerning temporal trends of objectively measured sedentary time, self-reported sedentary behaviours have increased over the past half century, with a rapid increase since the late 1990s. Excessive sedentary behaviour has been found to have independent and deleterious associations with markers of adiposity and cardiometabolic disease risk. These associations are especially consistent for screen-based sedentary behaviours (TV viewing, computer games, etc), with more conflicting findings observed for overall sedentary time. The above associations are possibly mediated by the influence of screen-based sedentary behaviours on energy intake. Although excessive sitting has been reported to have adverse acute and chronic metabolic impacts in adults, research on children is lacking. Research is particularly needed to investigate the impact of characteristics of sedentary behaviour (i.e. type/context, sedentary bout length, breaks in sedentary time, etc), as well as interventions that examine the health and behavioural impacts of sitting per se. Copyright © 2014 Canadian Diabetes Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.