Lifestyle Behaviors and Mental Health Among Children During Covid-19

A new study published in Public Health (2022) explored changes in lifestyle behaviors (physical activity, screen time, eating habits and bed/wake-up times), mental health and wellbeing during the first lockdown in Spring 2020 as perceived by 1095 grade 4 to 6 students (age 9–12 years) from 20 schools from disadvantaged settings, and examined determinants of these changes.

A majority of students reported declines in physical activity, having late bed/wake-up times, and modest improvements in mental health and wellbeing.

Many students reported increases rather than decreases in screen time and snacking.

Positive attitudes toward being active, eating healthy, going to sleep on time and being healthy were strongly associated with maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors during the lockdown.

Positive attitudes toward active and healthy living and healthy lifestyle behaviors were associated with maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing during the lockdown.

The authors concluded that the considerable changes in lifestyle behaviors, superimposed on the pre-existing burden of unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, put this generation of children at increased risk for future chronic disease.

We recommend schools and community youth-serving organizations significantly increase their investment in programs and policies aimed at improving key lifestyle behaviors of children, including physical activity, healthy eating, sleep and avoidance of alcohol and drug use, to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of children now and as they age into adolescence and young adulthood. 

Read the study article: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033350621004133

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