What they say and what they do: Comparing physical activity across the USA, England and the Netherlands

A. Kapteyn, J. Banks, M. Hamer, J.P. Smith, A. Steptoe, Arthur van Soest, A. Koster, S. Htay Wah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND:
Physical activity (PA) is important for maintaining health, but there are fundamental unanswered questions on how best it should be measured.

METHODS:
We measured PA in the Netherlands (n=748), the USA (n=540) and England (n=254), both by a 7 day wrist-worn accelerometer and by self-reports. The self-reports included a global self-report on PA and a report on the frequency of vigorous, moderate and mild activity.

RESULTS:
The self-reported data showed only minor differences across countries and across groups within countries (such as different age groups or working vs non-working respondents). The accelerometer data, however, showed large differences; the Dutch and English appeared to be much more physically active than Americans h (For instance, among respondents aged 50 years or older 38% of Americans are in the lowest activity quintile of the Dutch distribution). In addition, accelerometer data showed a sharp decline of PA with age, while no such pattern was observed in self-reports. The differences between objective measures and self-reports occurred for both types of self-reports.

CONCLUSION:
It is clear that self-reports and objective measures tell vastly different stories, suggesting that across countries people use different response scales when answering questions about how physically active they are.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-476
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Volume72
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

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England
Netherlands
Self Report
Exercise
Wrist
Age Groups

Keywords

  • accelerometer
  • physical activity
  • Self-report

Cite this

Kapteyn, A. ; Banks, J. ; Hamer, M. ; Smith, J.P. ; Steptoe, A. ; van Soest, Arthur ; Koster, A. ; Htay Wah, S. / What they say and what they do : Comparing physical activity across the USA, England and the Netherlands. In: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2018 ; Vol. 72, No. 6. pp. 471-476.
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What they say and what they do : Comparing physical activity across the USA, England and the Netherlands. / Kapteyn, A.; Banks, J.; Hamer, M.; Smith, J.P.; Steptoe, A.; van Soest, Arthur; Koster, A.; Htay Wah, S.

In: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Vol. 72, No. 6, 06.2018, p. 471-476.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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T2 - Comparing physical activity across the USA, England and the Netherlands

AU - Kapteyn, A.

AU - Banks, J.

AU - Hamer, M.

AU - Smith, J.P.

AU - Steptoe, A.

AU - van Soest, Arthur

AU - Koster, A.

AU - Htay Wah, S.

PY - 2018/6

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N2 - BACKGROUND:Physical activity (PA) is important for maintaining health, but there are fundamental unanswered questions on how best it should be measured.METHODS:We measured PA in the Netherlands (n=748), the USA (n=540) and England (n=254), both by a 7 day wrist-worn accelerometer and by self-reports. The self-reports included a global self-report on PA and a report on the frequency of vigorous, moderate and mild activity.RESULTS:The self-reported data showed only minor differences across countries and across groups within countries (such as different age groups or working vs non-working respondents). The accelerometer data, however, showed large differences; the Dutch and English appeared to be much more physically active than Americans h (For instance, among respondents aged 50 years or older 38% of Americans are in the lowest activity quintile of the Dutch distribution). In addition, accelerometer data showed a sharp decline of PA with age, while no such pattern was observed in self-reports. The differences between objective measures and self-reports occurred for both types of self-reports.CONCLUSION:It is clear that self-reports and objective measures tell vastly different stories, suggesting that across countries people use different response scales when answering questions about how physically active they are.

AB - BACKGROUND:Physical activity (PA) is important for maintaining health, but there are fundamental unanswered questions on how best it should be measured.METHODS:We measured PA in the Netherlands (n=748), the USA (n=540) and England (n=254), both by a 7 day wrist-worn accelerometer and by self-reports. The self-reports included a global self-report on PA and a report on the frequency of vigorous, moderate and mild activity.RESULTS:The self-reported data showed only minor differences across countries and across groups within countries (such as different age groups or working vs non-working respondents). The accelerometer data, however, showed large differences; the Dutch and English appeared to be much more physically active than Americans h (For instance, among respondents aged 50 years or older 38% of Americans are in the lowest activity quintile of the Dutch distribution). In addition, accelerometer data showed a sharp decline of PA with age, while no such pattern was observed in self-reports. The differences between objective measures and self-reports occurred for both types of self-reports.CONCLUSION:It is clear that self-reports and objective measures tell vastly different stories, suggesting that across countries people use different response scales when answering questions about how physically active they are.

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