Less screen time, more frequent fruit and vegetable intake, and physical activity are associated with greater mental wellbeing in adolescents.

Jenny Davison, Brendan Bunting, Paul Connolly, Katrina Lloyd, Laura Dunne, Barbara Stewart-Knox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Wellbeing declines during adolescence, for which the reasons are unclear. This analysis explored associations between wellbeing and multiple lifestyle, socioeconomic and school-level factors in young people. Data were collected as part of the Wellbeing in School (WiSe) survey of adolescent school children in Northern Ireland at age 13-14 years (N=1618; 49% female) and 15-16 years (N=1558; 50.5% female). Wellbeing was assessed using the short-form Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (sWEMWBS), where scores declined between time one (13-14 years) and time two (15-16 years) in both sexes and were significantly lower in females at both timepoints. Multilevel, multivariate modelling was therefore undertaken separately for males and females with sWEMWBS scores as the dependent variable. Physical activity, family affluence, fruit and vegetable intake, social media use, sleep duration, school factors (size and type) and religion were independent variables. More frequent physical activity in both sexes at both timepoints was associated with higher sWEMWBS scores. In females, higher sWEMWBS scores were associated with less social media use at time one (and marginally at time two), greater family affluence at time two, and being Catholic at both timepoints. In males, higher sWEMWBS scores were associated with more frequent fruit and vegetable intake at time one. Mental wellbeing was unrelated to sleep duration or school factors in either sex, at both time points. Efforts to maximize mental wellbeing in adolescents should promote engagement in physical activity and implement sex-specific interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1339–1361
Number of pages23
JournalChild Indicators Research
Early online date8 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. This material is based upon work conducted as part of the Wellbeing in Schools (WiSe) study which was financially supported by the Centre of Excellence for Public Health (Northern Ireland), and the Centre of Evidence and Social Innovation, at Queens University Belfast.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • mental wellbeing
  • physical activity
  • fruit and vegetables
  • family affluence
  • social media
  • sleep
  • Family affluence
  • Sleep
  • Physical activity
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Social media
  • Fruit and vegetables


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