Television- and screen-based activity and mental well-being in adults

Am J Prev Med. 2010 Apr;38(4):375-80. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.12.030.


Background: Sedentary behavior is emerging as an independent risk factor for physical health, although there is no existing evidence regarding mental well-being.

Purpose: This study aimed to examine the association between recreational sedentary behavior (based on TV- and screen-based entertainment [TVSE] time) and mental health in a representative sample of adults.

Methods: Participants were 3920 men and women (mean age 51.0+/-15.8 years) from the 2003 Scottish Health Survey. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and the mental health component of the 12-Item Short-Form Survey Instrument (MCS-12) were administered to obtain information on current mental health. Self-reported TVSE time, physical activity, and physical function was also measured. Analyses were conducted in 2009.

Results: Approximately 25% of participants engaged in at least 4 hours/day of TVSE. In general linear models, TVSE time per week was independently associated with GHQ-12 score (higher scores represent worse mental health status) after adjustment for age, gender, physical activity, physical function, area deprivation level, smoking, alcohol, fruit and vegetable intake, and BMI. After full adjustment, participants in the group with the highest TVSE level (>4 hours/day) had an increase in GHQ-12 score of 0.28 (95% CI=0.05, 0.51) compared with participants in the group with the lowest TVSE level (< or =2 hours/day). In stratified analyses, the association between TVSE time and GHQ-12 score persisted across all physical activity levels. Similar associations were observed using the MCS-12.

Conclusions: Sedentary behavior in leisure time is independently associated with poorer mental health scores in a representative population sample.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health* / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Motor Activity
  • Risk Factors
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television* / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors