Combined effects of time spent in physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep on adiposity and cardiometabolic health markers: a novel compositional data analysis approach

Sebastien F.M. Chastin*, Javier Palarea-Albaladejo, Manon L. Dontje, Dawn A. Skelton

*Corresponding author for this work

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The associations between time spent in sleep, sedentary behaviors (SB) and physical activity with health are usually studied without taking into account that time is finite during the day, so time spent in each of these behaviors are codependent. Therefore, little is known about the combined effect of time spent in sleep, SB and physical activity, that together constitute a composite whole, on obesity and cardio-metabolic health markers. Cross-sectional analysis of NHANES 2005–6 cycle on N = 1937 adults, was undertaken using a ompositional analysis paradigm, which accounts for this intrinsic codependence. Time spent in SB, light intensity (LIPA) and moderate to vigorous activity (MVPA) was determined from accelerometry and combined with self-reported sleep time to obtain the 24 hour time budget composition. The distribution of time spent in sleep, SB, LIPA and MVPA is significantly associated with BMI, waist circumference, triglycerides, plasma glucose, plasma insulin (all p<0.001), and systolic (p<0.001) and diastolic blood pressure (p<0.003), but not HDL or LDL. Within the composition, the strongest positive effect is found for the proportion of time spent in MVPA. Strikingly, the effects of MVPA replacing another behavior and of MVPA being displaced by another behavior are asymmetric. For example, re-allocating 10 minutes of SB to MVPA was associated with a lower waist circumference by 0.001% but if 10 minutes of MVPA is displaced by SB this was associated with a 0.84% higher waist circumference. The proportion of time spent in LIPA and SB were detrimentally associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease markers, but the association with SB was stronger. For diabetes risk markers, replacing SB with LIPA was associated with more favorable outcomes. Time spent in MVPA is an important target for intervention and preventing transfer of time from LIPA to SB might lessen the negative effects of physical inactivity.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0139984
Number of pages37
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2015



  • sedentary behaviour
  • physical activity
  • compositional analysis
  • sleep
  • metabolic health

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