The complexity of obesity in UK adolescents: relationships with quantity and type of technology, sleep duration and quality, academic performance and aspiration
Address for correspondence: Dr S Taheri, Public Health Building, University of Birmingham, NIHR CLAHRC Theme 8, Room 109, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK. E-mail: email@example.com
What is already known about this subject
- Technology use and ownership is highly prevalent in adolescents and has been previously linked to obesity, but bedtime use of contemporary, original and multiple device use is currently unexplored.
- Sleep duration is a potentially important contributor to obesity development, but other sleep parameters may be crucial and may contribute to a better understanding of obesity, although these are currently limited in adolescent samples.
- Adolescent obesity may have a negative impact on academic performance, but data are heterogeneous. Body mass index may also influence academic aspiration, but little is known about this potential relationship.
What this study adds
- Frequent use of contemporary (video games) and long-standing technologies (television) as well as multiple quantities of technology during the week at bedtime is positively associated with body mass index emphasizing the complex relationships between lifestyle choices during adolescence and obesity.
- We show that sleep duration and sleep onset latency are important aspects associated with elevated body mass index. Considering the physiological changes commonly associated with sleep alterations during adolescence, it is possible that incorporating sleep education into the curriculum and improving sleep hygiene may help to improve the current obesity epidemic, which impacts on many aspects of an individual's life.
- Increased body mass index is negatively associated with academic performance, but not aspiration, demonstrating the importance of tackling adolescent obesity for future health, well-being and success.
Contemporary technology and multiple device use may link to increased body mass index (BMI). The sleep–obesity relationship is inconsistent in adolescents. Sleep duration and quality may have crucial connections to obesity development, particularly in adolescents where sleep alterations are common. Elevated BMI in adolescents may influence academic performance and aspiration, but data are limited.
The objectives of this study was to assess the linear associations between BMI z-score and (i) quantity/type of technology used; (ii) sleep quantity/quality and (iii) academic performance/aspiration.
Consenting adolescents (n = 624; 64.9% girls, aged 11–18 years) were recruited. The Schools Sleep Habits Survey and Technology Use Questionnaire were administered. Objective measures of height/weight were obtained.
Quantity of technology was positively associated with BMI z-score β = 0.10, P < 0.01. Those who always engaged in video gaming had significantly higher BMI z-score vs. never-users, β = 1.00, P < 0.001. Weekday sleep duration and sleep onset latency were related to BMI z-score, β = −0.24, P < 0.001 and β = 0.01, P < 0.001, respectively. An inverse linear association was observed between BMI z-score and academic performance, β = −0.68, P < 0.001.
If confirmed prospectively, reducing bedtime use of technology and improving sleep hygiene in adolescents could be an achievable intervention for attenuating obesity with potentially positive effects on academic performance.