Background: Sedentary behaviour is increasingly recognized as a public health risk that needs to be monitored at the population level. Across Europe, there is increasing interest in assessing population levels of sedentary time. This systematic literature review aims to provide an overview of all existing cross-European studies that measure sedentary time in adults, to describe the variation in population levels across these studies and to discuss the impact of assessment methods. Methods: Six literature databases (PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, SportDiscus and OpenGrey) were searched, supplemented with backward-and forward tracking and searching authors' and experts' literature databases. Articles were included if they reported on observational studies measuring any form of sedentary time in the general population in two or more European countries. Each record was reviewed, extracted and assessed by two independent researchers, and disagreements were resolved by a third researcher. The review protocol of this review is registered in the PROSPERO database under registration number CRD42014010335. Results: Of the 9,756 unique articles that were identified in the search, twelve articles were eligible for inclusion in this review, reporting on six individual studies and three Eurobarometer surveys. These studies represented 2 to 29 countries, and 321 to 65,790 participants. Eleven studies focused on total sedentary time, while one studied screen time. The majority of studies used questionnaires to assess sedentary time, while two studies used accelerometers. Total sedentary time was reported most frequently and varied from 150 (median) to 620 (mean) minutes per day across studies and countries. Conclusions: One third of European countries were not included in any of the studies. Objective measures of European adults are currently limited, and most studies used single-item self-reported questions without assessing sedentary behaviour types or domains. Findings varied substantially between studies, meaning that population levels of sedentary time in European adults are currently unknown. In general, people living in northern Europe countries appear to report more sedentary time than southern Europeans. The findings of this review highlight the need for standardisation of the measurement methods and the added value of cross-European surveillance of sedentary behaviour.
- Assessment methods
- Sedentary behaviour