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Differences in energy balance-related behaviours in European preschool children: the ToyBox-study

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posted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by M De Craemer, M Lateva, V Iotova, E De Decker, M Verloigne, I De Bourdeaudhuij, O Androutsos, P Socha, Z Kulaga, L Moreno, B Koletzko, Y Manios, G Cardon, Boyd SwinburnBoyd Swinburn
BACKGROUND: The aim of the current study was to compare levels of energy balance-related behaviours (physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and dietary behaviours (more specifically water consumption, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and unhealthy snacking)) in four- to six-year-old preschoolers from six European countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Poland, and Spain) within the ToyBox cross-sectional study. METHODS: A sample of 4,045 preschoolers (4.77 ± 0.43 years; 52.2% boys) had valid physical activity data (steps per day), parents of 8,117 preschoolers (4.78 ± 0.46 years; 53.0% boys) completed a parental questionnaire with questions on sedentary behaviours (television viewing, computer use, and quiet play), and parents of 7,244 preschoolers (4.77 ± 0.44 years; 52.0% boys) completed a food frequency questionnaire with questions on water consumption, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and unhealthy snacking. RESULTS: The highest levels of physical activity were found in Spain (12,669 steps/day on weekdays), while the lowest levels were found in Bulgaria and Greece (9,777 and 9,656 steps/day on weekdays, respectively). German preschoolers spent the least amount of time in television viewing (43.3 min/day on weekdays), while Greek preschoolers spent the most time in television viewing (88.5 min/day on weekdays). A considerable amount of time was spent in quiet play in all countries, with the highest levels in Poland (104.9 min/day on weekdays), and the lowest levels in Spain (60.4 min/day on weekdays). Belgian, German, and Polish preschoolers had the lowest intakes of water and the highest intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages. The intake of snacks was the highest in Belgian preschoolers (73.1 g/day) and the lowest in Greek preschoolers (53.3 g/day). CONCLUSIONS: Across six European countries, differences in preschoolers' energy balance-related behaviours were found. Future interventions should target European preschoolers' energy balance-related behaviours simultaneously, but should apply country-specific adaptations.



PLoS one





Article number



1 - 18




San Francisco, Calif.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, The Authors