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Stappen, Vicky van; Dyck, Delfien van; Latomme, Julie; Bourdeaudhuij, Ilse de; Moreno, Luis; Socha, Piotr; Iotova, Violeta; Koletzko, Berthold; Manios, Yannis; Androutsos, Odysseas; Cardon, Greet; Craemer, Marieke de (2018): Daily Patterns of Preschoolers’ Objectively Measured Step Counts in Six European Countries: Cross-Sectional Results from the ToyBox-Study. In: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Vol. 15, No. 2, 291
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Abstract

This study is part of the ToyBox-study, which is conducted in six European countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Poland and Spain), aiming to develop a cost-effective kindergarten-based, family-involved intervention to prevent overweight and obesity in four-to six-year-old preschool children. In the current study, we aimed to examine and compare preschoolers' step count patterns, across the six European countries. A sample of 3578 preschoolers (mean age: 4.8 +/- 0.4) was included. Multilevel analyses were performed to take clustering of measurements into account. Based on the average hourly steps, step count patterns for the six European countries were created for weekdays and weekend days. The step count patterns during weekdays were related to the daily kindergarten schedules. Step count patterns during weekdays showed several significant peaks and troughs (p < 0.01) and clearly reflected the kindergartens' daily schedules, except for Germany. For example, low numbers of steps were observed during afternoon naptimes and high numbers of steps during recess. In Germany, step count patterns did not show clear peaks and troughs, which can be explained by a less structured kindergarten schedule. On weekend days, differences in step count patterns were observed in the absolute number of steps in the afternoon trough and the period in which the evening peak occurred. Differences in step count patterns across the countries can be explained by differences in (school) policy, lifestyle habits, and culture. Therefore, it might be important to respond to these step count patterns and more specifically to tackle the inactive periods during interventions to promote physical activity in preschoolers.