The independent prospective associations of activity intensity and dietary energy density with adiposity in young adolescents

Esther M F van Sluijs, Stephen J Sharp, Gina L. Ambrosini, Aedin Cassidy, Simon J Griffin, Ulf Ekelund

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There is limited evidence on the prospective association of time spent in activity intensity (sedentary (SED), moderate (MPA) or vigorous (VPA) physical activity) and dietary intake with adiposity indicators in young people. This study aimed to assess associations between (1) baseline objectively measured activity intensity, dietary energy density (DED) and 4-year change in adiposity and (2) 4-year change in activity intensity/DED and adiposity at follow-up. We conducted cohort analyses including 367 participants (10 years at baseline, 14 years at follow-up) with valid data for objectively measured activity (Actigraph), DED (4-d food diary), anthropometry (waist circumference (WC), %body fat (%BF), fat mass index (FMI), weight status) and covariates. Linear and logistic regression models were fit, including adjustment for DED and moderateto-vigorous physical activity. Results showed that baseline DED was associated with change in WC (β for 1 kJ/g difference: 0·71; 95 % CI 0·26, 1·17), particularly in boys (1·26; 95 % CI 0·41, 2·16 v. girls: 0·26; 95 % CI −0·34, 0·87), but not with %BF, FMI or weight status. In contrast, baseline SED, MPA or VPA were not associated with any of the outcomes. Change in DED was negatively associated with FMI (β for 1 kJ/g increase: −0·86; 95 % CI −1·59, −0·12) and %BF (−0·86; 95 % CI −1·25, −0·11) but not WC (−0·27; 95 % CI −1·02, 0·48). Change in SED, MPA and VPA did not predict adiposity at follow-up. In conclusion, activity intensity was not prospectively associated with adiposity, whereas the directions of associations withDED were inconsistent. To inform public health efforts, future studies should continue to analyse longitudinal data to further understand the independent role of different energy-balance behaviours in changes in adiposity in early adolescence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-929
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Authors 2016 This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Physical activity
  • Sedentary behaviours
  • Dietary energy density
  • Adiposity
  • Prospective cohort studies
  • Epidemiology
  • Children and adolescents


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