The purpose of this study was to examine how lifestyle behaviors in the context of physical activity levels and screen time are associated with school absenteeism. We analyzed 2005-08 NHANES data of proxy interviews for 1048 children aged 6-11 years and in-person self-reports of 1117 adolescents aged 12-18 years. Missing 10 percent of school days during the past school year was defined as severe school absenteeism (SSA).
Results indicated that watching TV ≥ 2 hours was significantly associated with SSA among both children [OR= 3.51 (1.03 – 12.0)] and adolescents [OR=3.96 (1.84 – 8.52)] compared with their peers watching less than two hours. A U-shaped association was identified between the level of physical activity and SSA among children. Both inactive children [OR=12.4 (1.43 – 108)] and highly active children [14.8 (2.82 – 77.7)] had a higher odds of SSA compared with children with medium levels of physical activity. No associations were observed for both children 0.57 [(0.16 – 1.99)] and adolescents [0.94 (0.44 – 2.03)] using a computer ≥ 3 hours.
The study concluded that excessive TV watching among children and adolescents, and inactivity and high activity levels (≥ 7 times per week) among children are independently associated with severe school absenteeism.
“Physical activity, screen-time, and school absenteeism: Self-reports from NHANES 2005-2008,” was published in Current Medical Research and Opinion.
Dr. Andrew Hansen, assistant professor of community health behavior and education at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University (JPHCOPH) was the lead author. Ms. Irina Melnic, JPHCOPH alumni, and Dr. Jian Zhang, associate professor of epidemiology at the JPHCOPH were co-authors.