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Physical activity phenotyping with activity bigrams, and their association with BMI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdyx093
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Early online date29 Jun 2017
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jun 2017

Abstract

Background: Analysis of physical activity usually focuses on a small number of summary statistics derived from accelerometer recordings: average counts per minute and the proportion of time spent in moderate-vigorous physical activity or in sedentary behaviour. We show how bigrams, a concept from the field of text mining, can be used to describe how a person’s activity levels change across (brief) time points. These variables can, for instance, differentiate between two people spending the same time in moderate activity, where one person often stays in moderate activity from one moment to the next and the other does not.

Methods: We use data on 4810 participants of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). We generate a profile of bigram frequencies for each participant and test the association of each frequency with body mass index (BMI), as an exemplar.

Results: We found several associations between changes in bigram frequencies and BMI. For instance, a one standard deviation decrease in the number of adjacent minutes in sedentary then moderate activity (or vice versa), with a corresponding increase in the number of adjacent minutes in moderate then vigorous activity (or vice versa), was associated with a 2.36 kg/m² lower BMI [95% confidence interval (CI): -3.47, -1.26], after accounting for the time spent in sedentary, low, moderate and vigorous activity.

Conclusions: Activity bigrams are novel variables that capture how a person’s activity changes from one moment to the next. These variables can be used to investigate how sequential activity patterns associate with other traits.

    Research areas

  • Physical activity, bigrams, body mass index, ALSPAC

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    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via Oxford University Press at https://academic.oup.com/ije/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ije/dyx093. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

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