Television, computer use, physical activity, diet and fatness in Australian adolescents

Valerie Burke, Lawrie J Beilin, Kevin Durkin, Werner G K Stritzke, Stephen Houghton, Charmaine A Cameron
International Journal of Pediatric Obesity: IJPO 2006, 1 (4): 248-55

PURPOSE: To examine sedentary behaviours (including television viewing, playing computer games and computer use), diet, exercise and fitness in relation to overweight/obesity in Australian adolescents.

METHODS: Questionnaires elicited food frequency data, time spent in TV-viewing, using computers, other sedentary occupations and physical activity recall. Weight, height and fitness (laps completed in the Leger test) were measured.

RESULTS: Among 281 boys and 321 girls, mean age 12 years (SD 0.9), 56 boys (20.0%) and 70 girls (23.3%) were overweight/obese. Greater fitness was associated with decreased risk of overweight/obesity in boys (Odds ratio [OR] 0.74; 95% CI 0.55, 0.99) and girls (OR 0.93; 95% CI 0.91, 0.99). TV-viewing predicted increased risk in boys (OR 1.04; 95% CI 1.01, 1.06) and decreased risk in girls (OR 0.99; 95% CI 0.96, 0.99). Computer use, video games, and other sedentary behaviours were not significantly related to risk of overweight/obesity. Vegetable intake was associated with lower risk in boys (OR 0.98; 95% CI 0.97, 0.99); greater risk was associated with lower fat intake in boys and girls, lower consumption of energy-dense snacks in boys (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.62, 0.88) and greater intake of vegetables in girls (OR 1.02; 95% CI 1.00, 1.03), suggesting dieting or knowledge of favourable dietary choices in overweight/obese children.

CONCLUSIONS: Among these adolescents, fitness was negatively related to risk for overweight/obesity in boys and girls. TV-viewing was a positive predictor in boys and a negative predictor in girls but the effect size was small; other sedentary behaviours did not predict risk.

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