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Are screen-based sedentary behaviors longitudinally associated with dietary behaviors and leisure-time physical activity in the transition into adolescence?

Mekdes K Gebremariam1*, Ingunn H Bergh2, Lene F Andersen1, Yngvar Ommundsen2, Torunn H Totland1, Mona Bjelland1, May Grydeland13 and Nanna Lien1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

2 Department of Coaching and Psychology, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway

3 Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:9  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-9

Published: 25 January 2013



There is a need for more longitudinal studies investigating the associations between screen-based sedentary behaviors (SB), dietary behaviors and leisure-time physical activity (PA).


In the HEIA cohort study, 908 children were followed from age 11 to age 13 (September 2007 – May 2009). The children self-reported their intake of fruits, vegetables, soft drinks with sugar and snacks. TV/DVD use, computer/game use and leisure-time PA were also self-reported. Multilevel generalized linear mixed model analysis was used to assess longitudinal associations between the screen-based SB and each of the two other behaviors.


Twenty-month changes in TV/DVD use and computer/game use were positively associated with changes in the consumption of soft drinks with sugar and unhealthy snacks in the same period; and inversely associated with change in vegetable consumption. Change in computer/game use was also inversely related to change in fruit consumption. An inverse but non-substantive association was found between change in TV/DVD use and change in leisure-time PA. Change in computer/game use was not significantly associated with change in leisure-time PA.


Changes in screen-based SB were associated with multiple unfavorable changes in dietary habits, although the associations were weak. These associations need to be further investigated in intervention/experimental studies, to assess whether changing screen-based SB will result in clinically relevant changes in dietary behaviors. However, the findings of this study suggest that screen-based SB and leisure-time PA are largely independent behaviors which should be addressed separately in health promotion activities.

Children; Adolescents; Sedentary behaviors; Screen time; Dietary behaviors; Physical activity; Associations; Longitudinal