Clustering and correlates of screen-time and eating behaviours among young children

Pearson, N., Biddle, S.J.H., Griffiths, P., Johnston, J.P. ORCID: 0000-0003-2954-5234 and Haycraft, E., 2018. Clustering and correlates of screen-time and eating behaviours among young children. BMC Public Health, 18: 753. ISSN 1471-2458

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Background: Screen-time and unhealthy dietary behaviours are highly pervasive in young children and evidence suggests that these behaviours often co-occur and are associated. Identifying clusters of unhealthy behaviours, and their influences early in childhood, can assist in the development of targeted preventive interventions. The purpose of this study was to examine the sociodemographic, behavioural, and home physical environmental correlates of co-occurring screen-time and unhealthy eating behaviours and to assess the clustering of screen-time and unhealthy dietary behaviours in young children.

Methods: Parents of 126 children, from the UK, aged 5–6 years (49% boys) completed a questionnaire which assessed their child’s screen-time (ST), fruit and vegetable (FV), and energy-dense (ED) snack consumption. Categories of health behaviours were created based on frequencies of children meeting recommendations for FV and ST and median splits of frequencies for ED snacks. Parents reported on their own behaviours (ST, FV, and ED snack consumption), how often they ate meals and watched TV with their child, and on the availability and accessibility of foods within the home. An observed over expected ratio (O/E) was used to assess behavioural clustering. Multivariable multinomial logistic regression was used to examine correlates of behaviour patterns.

Results: Approximately 25% of children had two or three health risk behaviours. Correlates consistently associated with clusters included parental income, eating meals at the TV, parental ST and ED snack food consumption, and home availability of ED snack foods. Observed over expected ratios were close to 1 and ranged from 0.78 to 1.43. The three-risk behaviour combination of insufficient FV consumption, high ED snack consumption, and excessive ST occurred more frequently than expected (1.23 (95% CI 0.89, 1.58)).

Conclusions: ST and unhealthy dietary behaviours cluster in children as young as 5 years of age and parents’ own behaviours appear to be important influencing factors. Further research into the development of behavioural clustering in young children to identify and further understand the mechanisms underlying the synergy among health behaviours is needed. Feasibility interventions promoting reductions in both screen-time and unhealthy dietary behaviours reciprocally, while simultaneously focusing on changing parental behaviours, are warranted.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: BMC Public Health
Creators: Pearson, N., Biddle, S.J.H., Griffiths, P., Johnston, J.P. and Haycraft, E.
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.
Date: 18 June 2018
Volume: 18
ISSN: 1471-2458
5698Publisher Item Identifier
Rights: © the author(s) 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 04 Sep 2018 15:22
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2018 15:41

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