Thesis by Anne Loyen: "Prevalence and correlates of sedentary behaviour and physical activity in European adult"
This thesis is about two health-related behaviours: physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Physical activity is defined as “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure” and comprises activities such as exercising, cycling to and from work, taking the stairs, or gardening. It is recommended that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. Not meeting this recommendation is commonly referred to as physical inactivity. Sedentary behaviour, on the other hand, includes activities such as watching television, working at a desk, eating a meal, or driving a car. It has been defined as “any waking behaviour characterised by a low energy expenditure while in a sitting or reclining position” and is a relatively newly recognised health risk. Physical inactivity and high levels of sedentary behaviour are associated with negative health outcomes such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and premature death.
Knowing how many people are inactive and/or sedentary (the ‘prevalence’) and what factors are associated with these behaviours (the ‘correlates’) is needed to monitor changes in population levels, identify and target populations at risk, and evaluate public health strategies. While physical activity levels are regularly monitored with varying estimates, sedentary behaviour prevalence data are scarce. In addition, correlates of especially sedentary behaviour are largely unknown. Therefore, the research in this thesis, that was part of the European ‘Determinants of Diet and Phyical Activity’ (DEDIPAC) Knowledge Hub, aimed to study the prevalence and correlates of sedentary behaviour and physical activity in European adults. The primary emphasis was on sedentary behaviour, as less is known about this behaviour than about physical activity.