International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 283–295 | Cite as

Social vulnerability as a predictor of physical activity and screen time in European children

  • Isabel IguacelEmail author
  • Juan M. Fernández-Alvira
  • Karin Bammann
  • Charalambos Chadjigeorgiou
  • Stefaan De Henauw
  • Regina Heidinger-Felső
  • Lauren Lissner
  • Nathalie Michels
  • Angie Page
  • Lucia A. Reisch
  • Paola Russo
  • Ole Sprengeler
  • Toomas Veidebaum
  • Claudia Börnhorst
  • Luis A. Moreno
  • On behalf of the IDEFICS consortium
Original Article



To examine associations between social vulnerabilities and meeting physical activity (PA) and screen time (ST) recommendations during a 2-year follow-up.


13,891 children aged 2.0 to  < 9.9 from eight European countries were assessed at baseline and 8482 children at follow-up. Children’s sports club membership, PA and ST were collected via parental questionnaires. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was objectively assessed with accelerometers. Performing at least 1 h of MVPA daily and spending less than 2 h of ST defined physically active and non-sedentary children, respectively. Vulnerable groups were defined at baseline as children whose parents had minimal social networks, from non-traditional families, with migrant origin or with unemployed parents. Logistic mixed-effects analyses were performed adjusting for classical socioeconomic indicators.


Children whose parents had minimal social networks had a higher risk of non-compliance with PA recommendations (subjectively assessed) at baseline. Migrants and children with unemployed parents had longer ST. All vulnerable groups were less likely to be sports club members.


Migrants and children with unemployed parents are at risk for excessive ST and all vulnerable groups have lower odds of being sports club members.


Vulnerable groups Physical activity Accelerometry Screen time Children IDEFICS study 



Physical activity


Moderate to vigorous physical activity


Identification and prevention of dietary- and lifestyle-induced health effects in children and infants


Screen time


Socio-economic status




Follow-up after the intervention



This work has been done as part of the IDEFICS Study ( The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the European Community within the Sixth RTD Framework Programme Contract No. 016181 (FOOD). I. I has been financed by the FPU (Grant Reference FPU014/00922) Predoctoral Programs (Spanish Ministry of Education and Science). We thank the IDEFICS children and their parents who generously volunteered and participated in this project.

Authors’ contributions

The authors’ contributions were as follows: II carried out the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript. CB designed the statistical analyses. KB, JMF-A, NM, LL, and OS, developed the measurement instruments; SDH, RF, LAM, AP, LAR, PR, and TV supervised the national data collection procedures. All authors read and critically reviewed the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest regarding this manuscript.

Supplementary material

38_2017_1048_MOESM1_ESM.docx (45 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 44 kb)


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel Iguacel
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Juan M. Fernández-Alvira
    • 1
    • 4
  • Karin Bammann
    • 5
    • 6
  • Charalambos Chadjigeorgiou
    • 7
  • Stefaan De Henauw
    • 8
  • Regina Heidinger-Felső
    • 9
  • Lauren Lissner
    • 10
  • Nathalie Michels
    • 8
  • Angie Page
    • 11
  • Lucia A. Reisch
    • 12
  • Paola Russo
    • 13
  • Ole Sprengeler
    • 6
  • Toomas Veidebaum
    • 14
  • Claudia Börnhorst
    • 6
  • Luis A. Moreno
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 15
  • On behalf of the IDEFICS consortium
  1. 1.GENUD (Growth, Exercise, NUtrition and Development) Research Group, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of ZaragozaSaragossaSpain
  2. 2.Instituto Agroalimentario de Aragón (IA2)SaragossaSpain
  3. 3.Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Aragón (IIS Aragón)SaragossaSpain
  4. 4.Fundación Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC)MadridSpain
  5. 5.Institute for Public Health and Nursing Sciences (IPP)University of BremenBremenGermany
  6. 6.Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology-BIPSBremenGermany
  7. 7.Research and Education Foundation of Child HealthStrovolosCyprus
  8. 8.Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  9. 9.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of PécsPécsHungary
  10. 10.Section for Epidemiology and Social MedicineUniversity of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, SwedenGothenburgSweden
  11. 11.Department of Exercise and Health Sciences, Centre for Sport, Exercise and HealthUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  12. 12.Department of Intercultural Communication and Management Copenhagen Business SchoolCopenhagenDenmark
  13. 13.Institute of Food SciencesNational Research CouncilAvellinoItaly
  14. 14.Department of Chronic DiseasesNational Institute for Health DevelopmentTallinnEstonia
  15. 15.Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBERObn)SaragossaSpain

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