Sedentary behaviour

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Learn more about the measures of sedentary behaviour across selected CLOSER studies

For background detail on this domain of physical activity, click here.

Sedentary behaviour was measured at ages ranging from 3y to 44y with data collected across MCS, ALSPAC, BCS70, NCDS, and NSHD. These measures centred on engagement with electronic devices including TV/video/DVD, computer or electronic gaming, general computer use, and internet use, with recall typically divided into weekdays and weekends.

Click to see the cross-study data availability and comparability for each sedentary behaviour subdomain:


Time spent watching TV

MCS 3y, 5y, 7y, 14y, ALSPAC 3y, 4y, 5y, 6y, 8y, 13y, 16y, 22y, BCS70 5y, and 16y have asked similar questions on frequency of TV consumption during childhood/early adulthood although questions vary slightly across ages (i.e. MCS 7: “On a normal week day during term time, how many hours does CM spend watching television, videos or DVDs”; ALSPAC 6: “How much time on average does s/he spend watching tv”; BCS70 5y: “Hours per day watched television Mon-Fri and Sat-Sun”). Responses are comparable in duration (hours/day), with consumption differences examined from weekdays and weekends.

BCS70 42y and NCDS 44y both ask similar questions on TV consumption in midlife (i.e. BCS70: “Time spent watching television, videos, DVDs, blue-ray (including on a computer):”; NCDS: “Time spent on average during the last year: watching TV or videos?”) with responses comparable in duration (hour/day).

ALSPAC 9y, BCS70 10y, and NCDS 11y ask similar questions on the frequency of TV watching (i.e. ALSPAC: “When she finishes school and returns home does she watch TV or video”; BCS70: “How often does your child do this in spare time: watch TV”, NCDS: “Watching television after school hour”) with responses comparable in frequency (ranging from never to always).

AgeStudyVariable name(s)Question wordingResponse scaleIncluded activitiesTimespan of recall
3MCSbmtvho"Typically, how many hours a day does child watch television or videos?"hours/ day: none, <1, 1+, <3, 4+TV, videonot specified
3ALSPACkg272 kg276"How much time on average does she spend each day watching tv"hours/day: none, <1, 1-2, 3+TVweekday & weekends
4ALSPACkk331 kk331a kk332 kk332a kk333"How much time on average does she spend each day watching tv"hours/day: none, <1, 1-2, 3+TVweekday & weekends
5ALSPACkm3063 km3073"How much time on average does she spend each day watching tv"hours/day: none, <1, 1-2, 3+TVweekday, weekends & school holidays
9ALSPACku206"When she finishes school and returns home does she watch TV or video"never, sometimes, usually, alwaysTV, videonot specified
5BCS70e117 e118"Hours per day watched television Mon-Fri and Sat-Sun"hours/day: none, <1,- 7TVweekday & weekends
5MCScmtvho"On a normal week day during term time, how many hours does CM spend watching TV, videos or DVDs"hours/day: none, <1, 1-<3, 3-5, 5-<7, 7+TV, video, DVDweekday
6ALSPACkp5023 kp5043 kp5063"How much time on average does she spend watching tv"hours/day: none, <1, 1-2, 3+TVweekday, weekends & school holidays
7MCSdmtvho"On a normal week day during term time, how many hours does CM spend watching television, videos or DVDs"hours/day: none, <1, 1-<3, 3-5, 5-<7, 7+TV, video, DVDweekday
8ALSPACkt1153 kt1173"How much time on average does she spend watching TV?" hours/day: none, <1, 1-2, 3+TVweekday, weekends & school holidays
10BCS70M88"How often does your child do this in spare time: watch TV"never/hardly, sometimes, oftenTVnot specified
11MCSEPTVHO00"On a normal week day during term time, how many hours does CM spend watching television programmes or films? "hours/day: none, <1, 1<2, 1-<3, 3-<5, 5-<7, 7+TVnot specified
11NCDSN949"Watching television after school hour"never/hardly ever, sometimes, often/nearly every dayTVweekday during term time
13ALSPACccq103"How much time on average do you spend each day watching TV?"hours/day: none, <1, 1-2, 3+TVweekday, weekends & school holidays
14MCSFCTVHO00"On a normal week day during term time, how many hours do you spend watching television programmes or films?"hours/day: none, <1, 1<2, 1-<3, 3-<5, 5-<7, 7+TVweekday during term time
16ALSPACtc3002 - tc3005"On a day when she does any of the things below, about how long altogether does she usually spend: TV (weekdays/ weekends) DVD (anyday)hours/ day: never, <30m, 30m-1, 1-2, 2-4, 4-6, 6+TV, DVDweekday during term time- specified in question
16ALSPACccs1003"How much time on average do you spend each day watching TV? "hours/day: none, <1, 1-2, 3+TVweekday & weekends
16BCS70f13 f14"After school yesterday, how long spent watching TV/ watching video?"hours/day: none, <1, >1, >2, >3, >4, >5TV, videoweekday
16NCDSN2868"Frequency of watching TV in spare time"would like to but don’t have the chance, never, sometimes, oftenTVnot specified
22ALSPACYPB2060 YPB2070"On an average weekday (weekend), how many hours per day do you: sit and watch TV?"hours/day: none, <1, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9+TVweekday & weekends
42BCS70b9scq10a b9scq10b"Time spent watching television, videos, DVDs, blue-ray (including on a computer)"hours/day: none, <1, 1- <3, 3-<5, >5TV, video, DVDweekday & weekends
44NCDStvtime"Time spent on average during the last year: watching TV or videos?"hours/day: none, <1, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, >4TVnot specified

 


Time spent using a computer / using games

ALSPAC 8y, 16y, 22y, MCS 11y, 14y, and BCS70 16y ask similar questions on the frequency of electronic gaming (i.e. MCS 14: “On a normal week day during term time, how many hours do you spend playing electronic games on a computer or games systems, such as Wii, Nintendo D-S, X-Box or PlayStation?”; ALSPAC: “On a day when she does any of the things below, about how long altogether does she usually spend on: computer game (anyday)”;  BCS70 16y: “After school yesterday, how long spent playing computer games?”) with all responses comparable in duration (hours/day).

AgeStudyVariable name(s)Question wordingResponse scaleIncluded activitiesTimespan of recall
6ALSPACkq571"How often does she play computer games"not at all, rarely, monthly, once a week, 2-5x a week, dailycomputer gamesnot specified
8ALSPACkt3018"About how often does your child play computer games"not at all, rarely, monthly, once a week, 2-5x a week, daily computer gamesnot specified
8ALSPACccd340 ccd341"How long do you spend playing computer games"hours/day: hardly at all, <1, 1hr, 1+computer gamesweekday, weekends & school holidays
9ALSPACku536"About how often does your child play computer games"not at all, < monthly, 1-3x month, 1x week, 2-5x week, dailycomputer gamesnot specified
11ALSPACkw9016"About how often does your child play computer games"not at all, < monthly, 1-3x month, 1x week, 2-5x week, dailycomputer gamesnot specified
11MCSECQ05X00"How often do you play games on a computer or games console, such as a Wii, Nintendo D-S, X-Box or Play Station, not at school?"never, < 1x a month, monthly, weekly, most dayselectronic gamesnot specified
11MCSEPCOMP00"On a normal weekday during term time, how many hours does CM spend playing electronic games on a computer or games console, such as Wii, Nintendo D-S, X-Box or Playstation?"hours/day: none, <1, 1<2, 1-<3, 3-<5, 5-<7, 7+electronic gamesweekday during term time
14MCSFCCOMH00"On a normal week day during term time, how many hours do you spend playing electronic games on a computer or games systems, such as Wii, Nintendo D-S, X-Box or PlayStation?"hours/day: < 30min-1, 1-<2, 2-3, 3-5, 5-7, 7+electronic gamesweekday during term time
16ALSPACtc3007"On a day when she does any of the things below, about how long altogether does she usually spend on: computer game (any day)"hours/ day: never, <30m, 30m-1, 1-2, 2-4, 4-6, 6+computer gamesweekday during term time- specified in question
16BCS70f15"After school yesterday, how long spent playing computer games?"hours/day: none, <1, >1, >2, >3, >4, >5computer gamesweekday
22ALSPACYPB2061 YPB2071"On an average weekday (weekend), how many hours per day do you: play games on PC/laptop, games console?"hours/day: none, <1, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9+electronic gamesweekday & weekends

 


Time spent using the internet

MCS 14y and ALSPAC 16y ask similar questions on internet usage (i.e. MCS: “On a normal week day during term time, how many hours do you spend using the internet?”; ALSPAC: “On a day when she does any of the things below, about how long altogether does she usually spend on: internet (for school/college), internet (non-school/college)”) with responses comparable in duration (hours/day).

AgeStudyVariable name(s)Question wordingResponse scaleIncluded activitiesTimespan of recall
14MCSFCCOMH00"On a normal week day during term time, how many hours do you spend using the internet?"hours/day: none, <1, 1<2, 1-<3, 3-<5, 5-<7, 7+internet (tablets, smartphones, computers, laptops)weekday during term time
16ALSPACtc3008 tc3009"On a day when s/he does any of the things below, about how long altogether does s/he usually spend on: internet (for school/college), internet (non-school/college)"hours/ day: never, <30m, 30m-1, 1-2, 2-4, 4-6, 6+internetweekday during term time- specified in question

 


Explore the other domains of physical activity & the comparability of measurements across studies:

Learn more about the studies covered by this guide and their measurement of physical activity:

Further information:


This page is part of the CLOSER resource: ‘Physical activity across age and study: a guide to data in six CLOSER studies’.