Skip to main content Accessibility help

Children and youth do not compensate for an imposed bout of prolonged sitting by reducing subsequent food intake or increasing physical activity levels: a randomised cross-over study

  • Travis J. Saunders (a1) (a2), Jean-Philippe Chaput (a1) (a2), Gary S. Goldfield (a1) (a2), Rachel C. Colley (a1) (a2), Glen P. Kenny (a2), Eric Doucet (a2) and Mark S. Tremblay (a1) (a2)...


The behavioural impact of an imposed bout of prolonged sitting is yet to be investigated in the paediatric population. The objective of the present study was to determine the acute effect of prolonged sitting on ad libitum food intake and spontaneous physical activity (PA) levels in healthy children and youth. A total of twenty healthy youth (twelve males and eight females) aged 10–14 years, with a mean BMI of 18·6 (sd 4·3) kg/m2, were exposed to three experimental conditions in a random order: (1) a day of uninterrupted sitting (Sedentary); (2) a day of sitting interrupted with a 2 min light-intensity walk break every 20 min (Breaks); (3) a day of sitting interrupted with a 2 min light-intensity walk break every 20 min as well as 2 × 20 min of moderate-intensity PA (Breaks+PA). Food intake (ad libitum buffet meal) and PA (accelerometry for 24 h) were assessed following exposure to each experimental condition. Despite significant differences in sedentary behaviour and activity levels during the three in-laboratory sessions (all P< 0·01), we did not observe any differences in ad libitum food intake immediately following exposure to each experimental condition or any changes in the levels of sedentary behaviour or PA in the 24 h following exposure to each experimental condition (all P>0·25). These findings suggest that children and youth may not compensate for an imposed bout of sedentary behaviour by reducing subsequent food intake or increasing PA levels.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: T. J. Saunders, fax +1 613 738 4800, email


Hide All
1Sedentary Behaviour Research Network (2012) Letter to the Editor: standardized use of the terms “sedentary” and “sedentary behaviours”. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 37, 540542.
2Chaput, JP, Visby, T, Nyby, S, et al. (2011) Video game playing increases food intake in adolescents: a randomized crossover study. Am J Clin Nutr 93, 11961203.
3Tremblay, M, LeBlanc, A, Kho, M, et al. (2011) Systematic review of sedentary behaviour and health indicators in school-aged children and youth. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 8, 98.
4Harris, JL, Bargh, JA & Brownell, KD (2009) Priming effects of television food advertising on eating behaviour. Health Psychol 28, 404413.
5Burke, V, Beilin, LJ, Simmer, K, et al. (2004) Predictors of body mass index and associations with cardiovascular risk factors in Australian children: a prospective cohort study. Int J Obes 29, 1523.
6Thivel, D, Aucouturier, J, Doucet, E, et al. (2013) Daily energy balance in children and adolescents. Does energy expenditure predict subsequent energy intake? Appetite 60, 5864.
7Saunders, TJ (2011) Potential contributors to the Canadian pediatric obesity epidemic. ISRN Pediatr 2011, article ID 917684.
8Saunders, TJ & Chaput, JP (2012) Is obesity prevention as simple as turning off the television and having a nap? Br J Nutr 108, 946947.
9Rowland, TW (1998) The biological basis of physical activity. Med Sci Sports Exerc 30, 392399.
10Frémeaux, AE, Mallam, KM, Metcalf, BS, et al. (2011) The impact of school-time activity on total physical activity: the activitystat hypothesis (EarlyBird 46). Int J Obes 35, 12771283.
11Wilkin, TJ, Mallam, KM, Metcalf, BS, et al. (2006) Variation in physical activity lies with the child, not his environment: evidence for an “activitystat” in young children (EarlyBird 16). Int J Obes 30, 10501055.
12Thivel, D, Isacco, L, Montaurier, C, et al. (2012) The 24-h energy intake of obese adolescents is spontaneously reduced after intensive exercise: a randomized controlled trial in calorimetric chambers. PLoS One 7, e29840.
13Colley, R, Garriguet, D, Janssen, I, et al. (2011) Physical activity of Canadian children and youth: accelerometer results from the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey. Health Rep 22, 1524.
14Pate, RR, Mitchell, JA, Byun, W, et al. (2011) Sedentary behaviour in youth. Br J Sports Med 45, 906913.
15Leatherdale, ST & Ahmed, R (2011) Screen-based sedentary behaviours among a nationally representative sample of youth: are Canadian kids couch potatoes? Chronic Dis Inj Can 31, 141146.
16Saunders, TJ, Chaput, JP, Goldfield, GS, et al. (2013) Prolonged sitting and markers of cardiometabolic disease risk in children and youth: a randomized crossover study. Metabolism (Epublication ahead of print version 14 June 2013).
17Cole, TJ, Bellizzi, MC, Flegal, KM, et al. (2000) Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey. BMJ 320, 12401243.
18Taylor, SJ, Whincup, PH, Hindmarsh, PC, et al. (2001) Performance of a new pubertal self-assessment questionnaire: a preliminary study. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol 15, 8894.
19Dubowy, K-O, Baden, W, Bernitzki, S, et al. (2008) A practical and transferable new protocol for treadmill testing of children and adults. Cardiol Young 18, 615623.
20Puyau, MR, Adolph, AL, Vohra, FA, et al. (2004) Prediction of activity energy expenditure using accelerometers in children. Med Sci Sports Exerc 36, 16251631.
21World Health Organization (2002) The World Health Report 2002: Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life. Geneva: WHO.
22Shomaker, LB, Tanofsky-Kraff, M, Zocca, JM, et al. (2010) Eating in the absence of hunger in adolescents: intake after a large-array meal compared with that after a standardized meal. Am J Clin Nutr 92, 697703.
23Hill, AJ & Blundell, JE (1986) Macronutrients and satiety: the effects of a high-protein or high-carbohydrate meal on subjective motivation to eat and food preferences. Nutr Behav (USA) 3, 133144.
24Arvaniti, K, Richard, D & Tremblay, A (2000) Reproducibility of energy and macronutrient intake and related substrate oxidation rates in a buffet-type meal. Br J Nutr 83, 489495.
25Rumbold, PLS, Gibson, A, Allsop, S, et al. (2011) Energy intake and appetite following netball exercise over 5 days in trained 13–15 year old females. Appetite 56, 621628.
26McNeil, J, Riou, , Razmjou, S, et al. (2012) Reproducibility of a food menu to measure energy and macronutrient intakes in a laboratory and under real-life conditions. Br J Nutr 108, 13161324.
27Chaput, JP & Tremblay, A (2007) Acute effects of knowledge-based work on feeding behaviour and energy intake. Physiol Behav 90, 6672.
28Epstein, LH, Roemmich, JN, Paluch, RA, et al. (2005) Influence of changes in sedentary behavior on energy and macronutrient intake in youth. Am J Clin Nutr 81, 361366.
29Epstein, LH, Roemmich, JN, Robinson, JL, et al. (2008) A randomized trial of the effects of reducing television viewing and computer use on body mass index in young children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 162, 239245.
30Epstein, LH, Roemmich, JN, Paluch, RA, et al. (2005) Physical activity as a substitute for sedentary behavior in youth. Ann Behav Med 29, 200209.
31Thivel, D, Blundell, JE, Duché, P, et al. (2012) Acute exercise and subsequent nutritional adaptations: what about obese youths? Sports Med 42, 607613.
32Nemet, D, Arieli, R, Meckel, Y, et al. (2010) Immediate post-exercise energy intake and macronutrient preferences in normal weight and overweight pre-pubertal children. Int J Pediatr Obes 5, 221229.
33King, NA, Caudwell, P, Hopkins, M, et al. (2007) Metabolic and behavioral compensatory responses to exercise interventions: barriers to weight loss. Obesity 15, 13731383.
34Goodman, A, Mackett, RL & Paskins, J (2011) Activity compensation and activity synergy in British 8–13 year olds. Prev Med 53, 293298.
35Leblanc, AG & Janssen, I (2010) Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 7, 40.
36Chaput, JP & Saunders, TJ (2012) Bioenergetics of obesity: is fat gain a problem or a solution? Bioenergetics: Open Access 1, e101.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed