Physical Activity Among Preadolescents Modifies the Long-Term Association Between Sedentary Time Spent Using Digital Media and the Increased Risk of Being Overweight

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: This study aimed to examine whether sedentary digital media use in preadolescence increases the risk of being overweight 3 years later, and whether this association differs based on preadolescents’ leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) levels. Methods: The authors conducted a 3-year follow-up study among 4661 participants with a mean (SD) age of 11 (1) years at baseline and 14 (1) years at follow-up. A web-based questionnaire assessed sedentary digital media use and LTPA. The authors categorized baseline LTPA duration into 3 levels: 0 to 5 (low), 6 to 8 (moderate), and ≥9 (high) hours per week. In addition, the authors categorized adolescents as normal weight or overweight/obese at follow-up. Results: Greater amounts of sedentary digital media use at baseline associated with an increased risk of being overweight 3 years later even after adjusting for confounders. This only held for preadolescents with low baseline LTPA (OR = 1.14; 95% confidence interval, 1.05–1.24), but not among those with moderate (OR = 1.02; 0.91–1.15) or high (OR = 0.96; 0.85–1.08) LTPA. Conclusions: Preadolescent LTPA modified the long-term association between sedentary digital media use and being overweight; specifically, 6 hours per week or more of LTPA mitigated the increased risk of being overweight associated with higher amounts of digital media use.

Engberg, Leppänen, Sarkkola, and Viljakainen are with the Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki, Finland. Engberg is also with the Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. Leppänen and Viljakainen are also with the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Engberg (elina.engberg@helsinki.fi) is corresponding author.
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