Mediating role of disordered eating in the relationship between screen time and BMI in adolescents: longitudinal findings from the Research on Eating and Adolescent Lifestyles (REAL) study Academic Article uri icon

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  • AbstractObjective:This study investigated whether the duration and type of screen time (ST) (TV viewing, recreational computer use, video gaming) is longitudinally associated with z-BMI and if these relationships are mediated by disordered eating (emotional, restrained).Design:At baseline, participants were n 1197 (T1; 60 % female) adolescents (mean age = 13·51 years) who completed surveys over 2 years. ST was assessed by a self-reported measure created by the investigative team, while emotional and restrained eating was measured by the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (DEB-Q). Height and weight were objectively measured to quantify z-BMI.Setting:Thirty-one public and two private schools from the region of Ottawa, Canada.Participants:Students in grades 7–12.Results:Parallel multiple mediation analyses revealed that more time spent watching TV at baseline is associated with higher z-BMI at T3 (total effect; B = 0·19, se = 0·07, P = 0·01, 95 % CI 0·05, 0·34), but no relationships were observed for total ST exposure or other types of ST and z-BMI. Disordered eating did not mediate the positive association between baseline TV viewing and z-BMI at T3.Conclusions:TV viewing was longitudinally associated with higher z-BMI in a community-based sample of adolescents, but disordered eating behaviours did not mediate this relationship. However, other non-pathological eating behaviours may mediate the association between ST and obesity and warrant further investigation. Finding suggests that targeting reduction in youth’s TV viewing may be an effective component in the prevention of childhood obesity.


  • Mougharbel, Fatima
  • Valois, Darcie D
  • Lamb, Megan
  • Buchholz, Andrea
  • Obeid, Nicole
  • Flament, Martine
  • Goldfield, Gary S

publication date

  • December 2020