Reading for pleasure in childhood and adolescent healthy behaviours: Longitudinal associations using the Millennium Cohort Study

Prev Med. 2020 Jan:130:105889. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105889. Epub 2019 Nov 23.


Leading a heathy lifestyle in adolescence is vital to individual health in later life. Drawing upon various existing theories, this study hypothesised that engagement in reading for pleasure may enhance healthy behaviours amongst young people. Data were analysed from 11,180 children in the UK Millennium Cohort Study and logistic regressions were used to examine the association between reading frequency at age 11 and health behaviours at age 14. Reading most days was associated with lower odds of trying a cigarette and alcohol and a higher likelihood of having two portions of fruit per day independent of confounding factors. However, spending more time reading was associated with less time spent engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity. Our findings suggest the importance of further studies exploring the potential health benefits of reading amongst young people.

Keywords: Children; Development; Healthy behaviours; Longitudinal study; Reading for pleasure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Cigarette Smoking / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pleasure
  • Reading*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Vegetables