Increased sedentary behaviour is associated with unhealthy dietary patterns in European adolescents participating in the HELENA study

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Mar;68(3):300-8. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.170. Epub 2013 Sep 18.


Background/objectives: To assess dietary patterns (DPs) in European adolescents and to examine their relationship with several indicators of sedentary behaviour.

Subjects/methods: A multinational cross-sectional study was carried out in 2202 adolescents (45.4% boys) aged 12.5-17.5 years. A self-reported questionnaire with information on sedentary behaviours, separately for weekdays and weekend days, and two non-consecutive 24 h-recalls were used. Principal component analysis was used to obtain DPs, and linear regression examined the association between DPs scores and sedentary behaviour.

Results: Four DPs for boys ('plant based', 'snacking', 'breakfast' and 'health conscious') and five DPs for girls ('confectionary and snacking', 'plant based', 'breakfast', 'animal protein' and 'health conscious') were obtained. Boys who spent >4 h/day watching television (TV) had lower adherence to the 'plant based', 'breakfast' and 'health conscious' DPs, and higher adherence to the 'snacking' DP. Higher computer use and internet use for recreational reason were associated with higher adherence to the 'snacking' DP. In girls, TV viewing and using internet for recreational reasons for >4 h/day was associated with higher adherence to the 'confectionary and snacking' and lower adherence with 'health conscious' DP. Also, studying between 2 and 4 h during weekend days was associated with lower adherence to the 'snacking' and with higher adherence to the 'plant based' and 'breakfast' DPs.

Conclusion: Adolescents' DPs are related with the time spent in several sedentary behaviours. Such findings may help to generate interventions focusing on decreasing unhealthy dietary habits and specific sedentary behaviours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Anthropometry
  • Child
  • Computers
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Recreation
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Self Report
  • Snacks
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Television