Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

A Pilot Study Using an Accelerometer to Evaluate a Caregiver's Interpretation of an Infant or Toddler's Activity Level as Recorded in a Time Activity Diary

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

A Pilot Study Using an Accelerometer to Evaluate a Caregiver's Interpretation of an Infant or Toddler's Activity Level as Recorded in a Time Activity Diary

Article excerpt

Key words: exposure, human activity, young children

Understanding human activities and their associated physical activity levels are important in estimating intake dose rates associated with exposure to environmental contaminants. High-energy activities increase a person's oxygen consumption and breathing rates on a short-term basis and, if sustained, increase the person's caloric and fluid intake rates on a longer term basis. Higher physiological rates result in increased levels of environmental contaminants passing into the body (McCurdy, 2000). Because children are generally more active than adults, it is important to relate young children's activity levels with the environmental, biological, personal, and questionnaire data measured during an exposure assessment to accurately estimate their potential intake dose rates to chemical exposures through inhalation, dermal, and ingestion routes.

It is well recognized, however, that young children's physical activities are highly intermittent and varying in intensity, often occurring in bursts with relatively long periods of quiet respites (Vincent & Pangrazi, 2002). These bursts are particularly difficult to capture in a diary without high respondent burden (Fairweather, Reilly, Grant, Whittaker, & Paton, 1999). Various approaches have been used to characterize activity levels, including: administering doubly labeled water, accelerometry, heart rate monitoring, step counting via a pedometer, observation and/or videotaping by trained technicians, portable indirect calorimetry, survey questionnaires, retrospective interviews, and having participants (or their caregivers, in the case of young children) fill out contemporaneous activity diaries (Jensen, Butte, Wong, & Moon, 1992; Montoye, Kemper, Saris, & Washburn, 1996; Tennefors, Coward, Hernell, Wright, & Forsum, 2003). For infants and toddlers, physical activity is usually measured on a daily or longer basis using the doubly labeled water technique, but this method is expensive and requires participants to visit laboratories to measure their energy expenditure (Schoeller, 1988; 1999). Furthermore, having only 24-hr data is incompatible with our need for discrete activity-specific exposure and intake dose assessments. Daily aggregated measures of activity level, such as that obtained using doubly labeled water, do not provide the level of detail needed for the exposure and dose models used (McCurdy, 2000).

Videotape and time activity diaries, supplemented by detailed interviews and questionnaires, are the most common methods used to capture activity information in the exposure assessment field. In general, these methods are labor intensive, and their objectivity has been questioned (Freeman & Saenz de Tejada, 2002). We could find only one small-scale exposure-oriented pilot field study in which children (N= 9; [less than or equal to] 5 years) wore an accelerometer. When the accelerometer data and caregiver-coded diary entries were classified into three categories--sedentary (including sleeping), light, and moderate/vigorous--the classifications correlated well (r > .89, p < .001; Stevens, Williams, & McCurdy, 2004).

A number of accelerometry field studies involving young children (age range 6-68 months) have been reported in the physiology literature. In general, these studies represent both short-term monitoring periods (e.g., [less than or equal to] 24 hr) and single environments in which young children may spend time (e.g., day care center; Klesges & Klesges, 1987; Klesges, Klesges, Swenson, & Pheley, 1985; Noland, Danner, Dewalt, McFadden, & Kotchen, 1990; Pate, Pfeiffer, Trost, Ziegler, & Dowda, 2004; Sazonov, Sazonova, Schuckers, Neuman, & CHIME Study Group, 2004; Sirard, Trost, Pfeiffer, Dowda, & Pate, 2005; Specker, Mulligan, & He, 1999). We could not locate a single accelerometry study in the literature that involved data collection from infants and toddlers over multiple 24-hr periods in which the children wore the accelerometer continuously in all the locations where they spent time. …

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