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Comparison of Two Physical Activity Questionnaires in Obese Subjects: The NUGENOB Study


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: September 2005 - Volume 37 - Issue 9 - p 1535-1541
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000177464.68521.3b
Basic Sciences: Epidemiology

Purpose: Simple instruments are needed to assess habitual physical activity (PA) in obese subjects. In a multicenter European obesity project, we tested whether PA assessments by two questionnaires were correlated and similarly associated to selected obesity-related variables.

Methods: A total of 757 obese subjects (75% female; age 37.1 [7.9] yr, BMI 35.5 [4.9] kg·m−2, mean [SD]) completed the Baecke questionnaire (assessing work, sport, and nonsport leisure activity) and the short last 7-d version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ; assessing vigorous, moderate-intensity, walking activity, and sitting). We assessed percent body fat (bioimpedance), waist circumference, and fasting plasma concentrations of glucose, insulin, leptin, and FFA. Insulin sensitivity was assessed by the HOMA index for insulin resistance (HOMAIR)

Results: Using the IPAQ, only about one third of men and women were classified as insufficiently active. Total habitual PA assessments by the Baecke and IPAQ were significantly related (Spearman ρ = 0.51 in total sample, P ≤ 0.0001, with adjustment for age, gender, and center). Using principal component analysis, we built two uncorrelated indices corresponding to general obesity (determined by high body fat and leptin) and abdominal obesity (determined by high waist circumference and HOMAIR). PA scores from both questionnaires were negatively related to general and abdominal obesity indices, except for abdominal obesity with the IPAQ in men

Conclusions: Total PA assessments by the two questionnaires were found to correlate significantly, and the general pattern of associations of PA with general obesity was similar for the two questionnaires. However, the IPAQ may capture less of the relationships between PA and abdominal obesity than the Baecke, especially in men. Reporting of habitual PA in obese subjects with the IPAQ warrants further evaluation against objective assessment methods.

1Pierre-et-Marie Curie University, Department of Nutrition, Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, Paris, FRANCE; 2INSERM Research Group “Nutrition, Hormones, Cancer,” Gustave Roussy Institute, Villejuif, FRANCE; 3Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute Maastricht, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, THE NETHERLANDS; 4Department of Human Nutrition, Center for Advanced Food Research, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Copenhagen, DENMARK; 5Department of Physiology and Nutrition, University of Navarra, Pamplona, SPAIN; 6School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UNITED KINGDOM; 7Obesity Research Unit, Louis Bugnard Institute and Clinical Investigation Center, Toulouse University Hospitals, Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, FRANCE; 8Department of Sports Medicine, Third Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, CZECH REPUBLIC; and 9Danish Epidemiology Science Center, Institute of Preventive Medicine, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, DENMARK

Address for correspondence: Jean-Michel Oppert, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Nutrition, Hôtel-Dieu Hospital 1, place du Paris Notre-Dame, 75004 Paris, France; E-mail:

Submitted for publication December 2004.

Accepted for publication April 2005.

NUGENOB is the acronym of the project Nutrient-Gene Interactions in Human Obesity: Implications for Dietary Guidelines supported by the European Community (Contract no. QLK1-CT-2000-00618) ( We thank Camilla Verdich, Ph.D., and Claus Holst, Ph.D., statistician, for their valuable help in data management at the NUGENOB study coordinating center at the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.

©2005The American College of Sports Medicine