Bi-Directional Associations Between Real-Time Affect and Physical Activity in Weight-Discordant Siblings

Kathryn E. Smith, Tyler B. Mason, Shannon M. O’Connor, Shirlene Wang, Eldin Dzubur, Ross D. Crosby, Stephen A. Wonderlich, Sarah Jeanne Salvy, Denise M. Feda, James N. Roemmich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Pediatric obesity confers increased risk for a host of negative psychological and physical health consequences and is reliably linked to low levels of physical activity. Affective antecedents and consequences of physical activity are thought to be important for the development and maintenance of such behavior, though research examining these associations in youth across the weight spectrum remains limited. Objective This study examined bi-directional associations between affect and physical activity (i.e., moderate-to-vigorous physical activity [MVPA] and total activity counts), and the extent to which weight (body mass index z-score [z-BMI]) moderated these associations. Methods Participants were drawn from a prior study of siblings (N = 77; mean age = 15.4 6 1.4 years) discordant for weight status (39 nonoverweight siblings, 38 siblings with overweight/obesity) who completed ecological momentary assessment (EMA) with accelerometer-assessed physical activity. Results Generalized linear mixed models indicated z-BMI moderated trait-level and momentary associations. When adolescents with higher z-BMI reported momentary negative affect, they evidenced less MVPA within the next hour. Across the sample, greater overall activity was associated with lower negative affect. However, at the momentary level, when adolescents with higher (but not lower) z-BMI evidenced greater activity, they reported decreases in negative affect. Conclusions Findings indicate affective experiences surrounding physical activity differ according to z-BMI. Specifically, momentary negative affect may impede momentary MVPA among youth with higher z-BMI. Further research is warranted to elucidate factors influencing these momentary associations and the extent to which these momentary associations prospectively predict weight change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-453
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 May 2021


  • health behavior
  • health promotion and prevention
  • obesity and weight management
  • psychosocial functioning
  • stress
  • weight management


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