Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Addressing overreporting on the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) telephone survey with a population sample

Randy Rzewnickia1 c1, Yves Vanden Auweelea1 and Ilse De Bourdeaudhuija2

a1 Faculty of Physical Education and Physical Therapy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Tervuursevest 101, B3000 Leuven, Belgium:

a2 Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium


Objective: To examine a possible problem of overreporting and to describe the degree of error with the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) short telephone protocol.

Design: Cross-sectional study, using two different physical activity (PA) self-report protocols.

Setting: Telephone interviews about PA in Belgium.

Subjects: Fifty adults who had previously been interviewed with IPAQ in a national survey.

Results: Seventy-five per cent reported less PA with the modified procedure than with the IPAQ. Twenty-three of the 50 individuals were found to have reported some amounts of PA with the IPAQ (either walking, or vigorous or moderate PA) when they should have reported none. In total, based on their revised reports of PA, 50% fewer persons met PA recommendations than was the case with IPAQ. The overreporting could not be related to types of error-prone individuals.

Conclusions: Overreporting of PA in population samples is a serious problem that could be reduced by implementing procedure changes without changing the IPAQ items themselves.

(Received July 17 2002)

(Accepted October 10 2002)


c1 *Corresponding author:: Email