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  • Population Study Article
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Adolescent sedentary behavior and body composition in early adulthood: results from a cohort study



This study investigates the cross-sectional and prospective associations between accelerometer-measured sedentary behavior and body composition from adolescence to early adulthood.


Data from the Santiago Longitudinal Study were analyzed (n = 212). Sedentary time was measured at age 16 years, and body composition (body mass index [BMI], waist circumference, waist-to-height ratio [WHtR], fat mass percentage, and lean mass percentage) was examined at both age 16 and 23 years. Adjusted linear regression models estimated associations between sedentary time, sedentary bout duration, and body composition, overall and by sex.


In all analyses, mean sedentary bout duration was not associated with body composition. In cross-sectional analyses, more sedentary time during adolescence was significantly associated with lower BMI, waist circumference, WHtR, fat mass percentage, and higher lean mass percentage (p < 0.05). One standard deviation increase in daily sedentary time was prospectively associated with lower body mass index (β = −1.22 kg/m2, 95% CI: −2.02, −0.42), waist circumference (β = −2.39 cm, 95% CI: −4.03, −0.75), and WHtR (β = −0.014, 95% CI: −0.024, −0.004). Sedentary time at 16 years was not associated with changes in body composition from 16 to 23 years.


Sedentary behavior in adolescence is not adversely associated with body composition profiles in early adulthood.


  • Little is known about the effect of device-measured sedentary behavior on body composition during the transition from adolescence to early adulthood.

  • Among participants in the Santiago Longitudinal Study, more accelerometer-measured sedentary time during adolescence was associated with lower BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-height ratio in early adulthood though point estimates were generally small in magnitude.

  • Sedentary behavior in adolescence was not detrimentally associated with healthy body composition profiles in early adulthood. Public health interventions aimed at reducing obesity rates could consider other behaviors, such as physical activity and healthy diet, instead of sitting time.

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Data availability

The datasets analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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The authors have immense gratitude for the volunteers who took part in the Santiago Longitudinal Study. In addition, we thank Dr. Erin Delker for her assistance with the data analysis performed in this study.


This work was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (T32HL079891, R01HL088530, 1K01HL129087-01A1) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD33487, R03HD097295). E.B. acknowledges ANID - MILENIO - NCS2021_013. The funders had no role in the design, conduct, analysis, and decision to publish results from this study.

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Authors and Affiliations



E.T.H., S.G., S.M.M., P.E., and E.B. contributed to the conception and design of the study. E.T.H. led the drafting of the manuscript. E.B. and R.B. led the data acquisition, and D.W. led the cleaning of the accelerometer data. P.C.B., C.A., P.P., and S.R. provided expert technical assistance on the Santiago Longitudinal Study. E.B. and S.G. supervised the project. All co-authors participated in the review and writing of the final version of the manuscript and gave final approval of this version to be published.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Estela Blanco.

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All participants provided assent at the adolescent visit (age 16 years) and informed consent at the early adulthood visit (age 23 years).

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Hyde, E.T., Gahagan, S., Martinez, S.M. et al. Adolescent sedentary behavior and body composition in early adulthood: results from a cohort study. Pediatr Res 94, 1209–1215 (2023).

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