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Keywords:

  • adolescent;
  • life style;
  • mental health;
  • nutrition;
  • Raine Study

Aim:  To determine the constellation of lifestyle and demographic factors that are associated with poor mental health in an adolescent population.

Methods:  The Raine Study 14-year follow-up involved primary care givers and their adolescent children (n= 1860). The Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) was used to assess adolescent mental health. We examined diet, socio-demographic data, family functioning, physical activity, screen use and risk-taking behaviours with mental health outcomes using linear regression.

Results:  Adolescents with higher intakes of meat and meat alternatives and ‘extras’ foods had poorer mental health status. Adverse socio-economic conditions, higher hours of screen use and ever partaking in the health risk behaviours of smoking and early sexual activity were significantly associated with increasing CBCL scores, indicative of poorer functioning.

Conclusions:  By identifying the lifestyle and demographic factors that accompany poorer mental health in early adolescence, we are able to better understand the context of mental health problems as they occur within an adolescent population.