Accuracy of Accelerometers for Measuring Physical Activity and Levels of Sedentary Behavior in Children: A Systematic Review

Brian A. Lynch, Tara K. Kaufman, Tamim I. Rajjo, K. Mohammed, Seema Kumar, M. Hassan Murad, Natalie E. Gentile, Gabriel A. Koepp, Shelly K. McCrady-Spitzer, James A. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: This systematic review evaluated the accuracy of triaxial and omnidirectional accelerometers for measuring physical activity and sedentary behavior in children. Design: Systematic review of the literature. Methods: We comprehensively searched several databases for studies published from January 1996 through June 2018 that reported diagnostic accuracy measures in children and adolescents (age 3-18 years) and compared accelerometers with energy expenditure using indirect calorimetry. Results: We included 11 studies that enrolled 570 participants. All studies used indirect calorimetry as the reference standard. Across the studies, median sensitivity ranged from 46% to 96% and median specificity ranged from 71% to 96%. Median area under the curve ranged from 69% to 98%. Conclusions: Accuracy measures were greatest when detecting sedentary behavior and lowest when detecting light physical activity. Accuracy was higher when the accelerometer was placed on the hip compared with the wrist. The current evidence suggests that triaxial and omnidirectional accelerometers are accurate in measuring sedentary behavior and physical activity levels in children.



  • adolescents
  • energy expenditure
  • exercise
  • pediatrics
  • sensitivity
  • specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this