Background and aims Energy balance may be affected by developmental (re)programming of physical activity and sedentary behaviour, hence predispose for cardiovascular disease in later life. We hypothesise that low birth weight and accelerated growth in infancy corresponds with lower physical activity levels and more sedentary behaviour at 8–9 years of age, thereby predisposing for obesity.
Methods Physical activity and sedentary behaviour were measured in 183 children (100 boys) of a prospective birth cohort at mean age 8.7 years using accelerometery. Outcomes were minutes per day above moderate activity (>3000 counts/min) and minutes sedentary per day .
Results On average (±SD), children participated in 37 (±14) minutes of physical activity and 412 (±45) minutes of sedentary behaviour per day. Low birth weight was not associated with either physical activity or sedentary time. The average standardised growth velocity, however, was positively associated with sedentary time, with an average increase of 7.8 min in daily sedentary time per SD weight gain in infancy. Growth velocity was not significantly associated with physical activity.
Conclusions Infant growth may program sedentary behaviour, but not physical activity levels at age 8–9. Birth weight was not related to either physical activity or sedentary behaviour. Hence developmental effects of growth on childhood energy balance correspond with variations in sedentary behaviour rather than physical activity.