Sleep, eating behaviour, bullying contribute largely to adolescent well-being
The well-being of adolescents is mostly affected by several behavioural factors including sleeping, eating behaviour and bullying, a study has found.
Researchers examined a very large nationally representative cohort of 120,115 adolescents (52.42 percent girls) from the What About Youth study. They used the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) to measure the primary outcome of mental well-being. Substance abuse, screen time, eating habits, reading, bullying, sleeping pattern, physical activity and area-level deprivation were also assessed as explanatory factors.
Overall mean WEMWBS score was higher for boys than for girls (p<0.0001). Eating habits, sleep, bullying, physical activity, screen-time and reading showed an independent association with mental well-being in both boys and girls (p<0.0001 for all).
The association of well-being with factors such as sleep and eating behaviours was stronger in both sexes as compared with the relationship with bullying, physical activity and screen time. Meanwhile, deprivation was associated with well-being among girls but not among boys.
Youths from black ethnic groups had significantly higher well-being in both sexes.
According to researchers, the study enhances the understanding of risk and protective factors associated with well-being in adolescence, with young people who report lower levels of well-being more likely to have engaged in multiple unhealthy eating habits and substance use, be victims of bullying, have exercised insufficiently, and have exceeded recommended screen time use.
Overall, findings suggest that healthy sleep and eating behaviours, as well as reading, should be promoted in policy that targets enhancement of adolescent well-being, in addition to more accepted foci on physical activity, screen time and bullying, researchers said.