The complexity of obesity in UK adolescents: Relationships with quantity and type of technology, sleep duration and quality, academic performance and aspiration

Teresa Arora, Marizieh Hosseini Araghi, J. Bishop, Guiqing Yao, Graham Neil Thomas, Shahrad Taheri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


What is already known about this subject

Technology use and ownership is highly prevalent in adolescents and has been previously linked to obesity, but bedtime use of contemporary, original and multiple device use is currently unexplored.Sleep duration is a potentially important contributor to obesity development, but other sleep parameters may be crucial and may contribute to a better understanding of obesity, although these are currently limited in adolescent samples.Adolescent obesity may have a negative impact on academic performance, but data are heterogeneous. Body mass index may also influence academic aspiration, but little is known about this potential relationship.

What this study adds

Frequent use of contemporary (video games) and long‐standing technologies (television) as well as multiple quantities of technology during the week at bedtime is positively associated with body mass index emphasizing the complex relationships between lifestyle choices during adolescence and obesity.We show that sleep duration and sleep onset latency are important aspects associated with elevated body mass index. Considering the physiological changes commonly associated with sleep alterations during adolescence, it is possible that incorporating sleep education into the curriculum and improving sleep hygiene may help to improve the current obesity epidemic, which impacts on many aspects of an individual's life.Increased body mass index is negatively associated with academic performance, but not aspiration, demonstrating the importance of tackling adolescent obesity for future health, well‐being and success.


Contemporary technology and multiple device use may link to increased body mass index (BMI). The sleep–obesity relationship is inconsistent in adolescents. Sleep duration and quality may have crucial connections to obesity development, particularly in adolescents where sleep alterations are common. Elevated BMI in adolescents may influence academic performance and aspiration, but data are limited.


The objectives of this study was to assess the linear associations between BMI z‐score and (i) quantity/type of technology used; (ii) sleep quantity/quality and (iii) academic performance/aspiration.


Consenting adolescents (n = 624; 64.9% girls, aged 11–18 years) were recruited. The Schools Sleep Habits Survey and Technology Use Questionnaire were administered. Objective measures of height/weight were obtained.


Quantity of technology was positively associated with BMI z‐score β = 0.10, P < 0.01. Those who always engaged in video gaming had significantly higher BMI z‐score vs. never‐users, β = 1.00, P < 0.001. Weekday sleep duration and sleep onset latency were related to BMI z‐score, β = −0.24, P < 0.001 and β = 0.01, P < 0.001, respectively. An inverse linear association was observed between BMI z‐score and academic performance, β = −0.68, P < 0.001.


If confirmed prospectively, reducing bedtime use of technology and improving sleep hygiene in adolescents could be an achievable intervention for attenuating obesity with potentially positive effects on academic performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-366
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Obesity
Issue number5
Early online date13 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2012 The Authors. Pediatric Obesity © 2012 International Association for the Study of Obesity.


  • Adolescence
  • BMI
  • sleep
  • technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Health Policy
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'The complexity of obesity in UK adolescents: Relationships with quantity and type of technology, sleep duration and quality, academic performance and aspiration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this