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Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness








Background/Objective: Advancing knowledge about energy balance (EB) is important for helping to reverse the obesity epidemic in many modern societies. This study examined adolescents' experience and perception of using an objective self-monitoring tool (SenseWear armband; SWA) and a portable diet journal to track EB for 7 days.

Methods: Forty-five 6th grade students in a midwestern state of the United States [Caucasian: n = 34, 76%; age: 11.7 ± 1.8 years; body mass index (BMI): 20.84 ± 3.94] participated in the study. The SWA, diet journal, and semistructured individual interview were used to measure energy expenditure (EE) and physical activity (PA), energy intake (EI), and perception of the experience, respectively. Mixed methods were used to analyze quantitative and qualitative data.

Results: It was found that the participants were physically active over the week (moderate-to-vigorous PA: 218.06 ± 26.50 minutes per day). Both SWA (% of wearing time: 85 ± 5%) and diet journal (days of using: 5.58 ± 2.15 days), especially the latter, were found to be under-used. A conceptual model depicting the adolescents' experience and perception was established based on the results.

Conclusion: The study indicates that the majority of adolescents were able to effectively use the SWA and the diet journal to track EB over time. Qualitative observations revealed that tracking EI and EE with these tools provided a valuable, experiential way for youth to learn about EB. The findings support the continued exploration of self-monitoring EB for promoting knowledge and awareness about EB among adolescents.


This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

Original Publication Citation

Chen, S. L., Zhu, X. H., Welk, G. J., & Kim, Y. (2015). Tracking energy balance in adolescents: Levels of compliance, energy flux, and learning. Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness, 13(1), 35-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jesf.2015.01.001