Sedentary behaviour (SB) has emerged as a potential risk factor for metabolic health in youth. Knowledge on the determinants of SB in youth is necessary to inform future intervention development to reduce SB. A systematic review was conducted to identify predictors and determinants of SB in youth. Pubmed, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Web of Science were searched, limiting to articles in English, published between January 2000 and May 2014. The search strategy was based on four key elements and their synonyms: (a) sedentary behaviour, (b) determinants, (c) types of sedentary behaviours, (d) types of determinants. The full protocol is available from PROSPERO (PROSPERO 2014:CRD42014009823). Cross-sectional studies were excluded. The analysis was guided by the socio-ecological model. 37 studies were selected out of 2654 identified papers from the systematic literature search. Most studies were conducted in Europe (n = 13), USA (n = 11), and Australia (n = 10). The study quality, using the Qualsyst tool, was high with a median of 82% (IQR: 74-91%). Multiple potential determinants were studied in only one or two studies. Determinants were found at the individual, interpersonal, environmental and policy level but few studies examined a comprehensive set of factors at different levels of influences. Evidence was found for age being positively associated with total SB, and weight status and baseline assessment of screen time being positively associated with screen time (at follow-up). A higher playground density and a higher availability of play and sports equipment at school were consistently related to an increased total SB, although these consistent findings come from single studies. Evidence was also reported for the presence of safe places to cross roads and lengthening morning and lunch breaks being associated with less total SB. Future interventions to decrease SB levels should especially target children with overweight or obesity and should start at a young age. However, since the relationship of many determinants with SB remains inconsistent, there is still a need for more longitudinal research on determinants of SB in youth.
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