Association between objectively measured sedentary behavior and
a criterion measure of obesity among adults
James L. Farnsworth
Department of Health and Human
Performance, Middle Tennessee State
University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Department of Kinesiology and Sport
Management, Texas Tech University,
Lubbock, Texas 79409
School of Education/Exercise Science,
Buena Vista University, Storm Lake, Iowa
Department of Physical Education, Korea
Military Academy, Seoul, Republic of
Department of Health, Exercise Science,
and Recreation Management, The
University of Mississippi, University,
Junbae Mun, Kinesmetrics Laboratory,
Murphy Center 126, Middle Tennessee
State University, 1301 East Main Street,
P.O. Box 96, Murfreesboro, TN 37132.
Objective: Results of published studies on the association between sedentary behav-
ior (SB) and obesity are inconsistent, possibly due to reliance on subjective measures
of SB and inappropriate measures of obesity. The aim of this study was to examine
the relationship between objectively measured SB and criterion-measured obesity
Methods: A total of 2284 adults (18 years) from the 2003 to 2004 National Health
and Nutrition Examination Survey were included in the analysis. The participants
were categorized into tertiles of SB time measured by accelerometry. Obesity was
determined using body fat percentage measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.
Results: Increased SB was significantly associated with obesity when controlling for
covariates related to demographics, health behaviors, energy intake, and physical
activity (P for trends 5 .025).
Conclusions: This finding suggests that avoiding SB may be beneficial for lowering
the risk of obesity in adults.
Sedentary lifestyle is an emerging health concern that has
received a great deal of attention in relation to a variety of
health outcomes, including adult obesity risk. However, stud-
ies that relate sedentary behavior (SB) to adult obesity risk
have sparked controversy and failed to provide clinically
meaningful evidence (Proper, Singh, Van Mechelen, & Chi-
napaw, 2011; Thorp, Owen, Neuhaus, & Dunstan, 2011).
Some researchers speculate that one reason for the inconsis-
tent results might be the reliance on subjective measurements
of SB (Thorp et al., 2011). Conversely, studies utilizing
objectively measured SB in relation to obesity measured by
body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference (WC) have
also yielded inconsistent results (Healy, Matthew, Dunstan,
Winkler, & Owen, 2011; Maher, Mire, Harrington, Staiano,
& Katzmarzyk, 2013).
It is possible that inaccuracies inherent in surrogate meas-
urements of obesity are at the root of inconsistent study
results with respect to SB and obesity (Romero-Corral et al.,
2006). BMI and WC have been widely used to measure obe-
sity in large observational studies because of their simplicity
and practicality. They have, however, been criticized as inac-
curate measurements of obesity (Romero-Corral et al., 2006,
2008). Thus, the use of potentially inaccurate obesity indices
could contribute to the inconsistent results with regard to SB
Only a few studies have been conducted to examine the
association between objectively measured SB and obesity
measured by body fat percentage (BF%) or fat mass (Kim &
Am J Hum Biol. 2018;30:e23080.
2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Received: 8 March 2017
Revised: 31 July 2017
Accepted: 28 October 2017
American Journal of Human Biology