To synthesize the findings on correlates of physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) in South American children.
A search was carried out from June 24 to October 27, 2020, in the LILACS, PubMed, SciELO, Scopus and Web of Science databases. To broaden the search, the references of identified review articles were examined, and a panel of experts was surveyed. Observational and interventional studies conducted with South-American children from zero to 5 years of age were included.
Of 3 111 articles initially identified, 18 were eligible: 14 observational studies, 12 studies conducted in Brazil, and 17 studies investigating preschool children (3 to 5 years of age). In addition to Brazil, only Chile and Ecuador were represented. PA and SB were measured by accelerometers in seven studies; however, high variability was observed in the instruments and cut-off points used. Although children were classified as physically active in 12 studies, six studies showed that they spent considerable time in SB. Most studies assessed the individual (14 studies) and interpersonal (11 studies) domains, followed by the environmental (eight studies) and political (one study) domains. Interventions in the school context (four studies) increased PA levels and reduced the time spent in SB. However, the evidence from cross-sectional and interventional studies presented a high risk of bias.
Given the knowledge gap identified in this review, studies with robust designs, covering additional South American countries are warranted, focusing on infants and children under 3 years of age and investigating correlates in the environmental and political domains.