Extremely popular teen activities are playing video games and TV watching. Sedentary activities such as these are not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Now, another consequence of sedentary activities has been reported: they are associated with poor dietary choices.
European researchers reported their findings online on September 3 in the journal Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.
The aim of the study was to examine the association between time spent on different sedentary behaviors and consumption of certain food and beverage groups in a sample of European adolescents. The researchers evaluated data on 2,202 adolescents between the ages of 12.5 and 17.5 years (45.5% boys) from the European Union-funded Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence Cross-sectional Study.
Information on sedentary activity (weekdays and weekends) was collected via a standardized self-reported questionnaire. Reported activities included watching television, playing computer and video games, using the Internet for studying or recreation, and studying. Food and beverage consumption data of selected groups were obtained using two nonconsecutive 24-hour recalls.
The investigators found that boys who reported more than four hours per day of watching television, playing computer games, and using the Internet for recreation were more likely to consume sweetened beverages (weekends) and less likely to consume fruit (weekdays) than those who spent less than two hours per day. Girls who spent more time per day watching television and playing computer or video games (weekdays) and playing computer games or surfing the Internet for recreation (weekends) were more likely to drink sweetened beverages and less likely to consume fruit (weekdays) than those who spent less than two hours per day.
The authors concluded that increased television viewing and computer and Internet use during adolescence is associated with higher odds of consumption of sweetened beverages and lower odds of fruit consumption. The authors suggested that lack of parental control may be the major factor for the poor dietary choices. They noted that parents are responsible for the home environment and the foods their children consume. They noted that simply having unhealthy snacks available in the home plays an important role in the food choices, particularly as consumption of the unhealthy foods is more frequent during after-school hours, when adolescents are more likely to be unsupervised.
Take home message:
The best course of action is for parents to avoid purchasing unhealthy foods for the home and having a frank discussion with their teen(s) as to why they should be avoided. In addition, parents should serve as a role model to their children and engage in a healthy lifestyle themselves. Poor dietary choices are detrimental to the health of individuals of any age. Furthermore, it is far healthier to engage in physical activities than it is to engage in cyber sports with a joystick.