All authors declare that they have no competing interest.
Conceived and designed the study: VR, OA, KP. Performed the study: AS, OA, DS. Analysed the data: AS, VM, LC, KP, CG, OA. Wrote the first draft of the manuscript: AS, VM, LC, OA. Contributed to the writing of the manuscript: AS VM CG LC, OA, VR, DS, KP. Agree with manuscript results and conclusion: AS VM CG LC, OA, VR, DS, KP. Enrolled participants: AS, OA, DS. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Availability of data and materials
Effective interventions on screen-time behaviours (television, video games and computer time) are needed to prevent non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries. The present manuscript investigates the effect of a school-based health promotion intervention on screen-time behaviour among 12- to 15-year-old adolescents. We report the effect of the trial on screen-time after two stages of implementation.
We performed a cluster-randomised pair matched trial in urban schools in Cuenca-Ecuador. Participants were adolescents of grade eight and nine (mean age 12.8 ± 0.8 years, n = 1370, control group n = 684) from 20 schools (control group n = 10). The intervention included an individual and environmental component tailored to the local context and resources. The first intervention stage focused on diet, physical activity and screen-time behaviour, while the second stage focused only on diet and physical activity. Screen-time behaviours, primary outcome, were assessed at baseline, after the first (18 months) and second stage (28 months). Mixed linear models were used to analyse the data.
After the first stage (data from n = 1224 adolescents; control group n = 608), the intervention group had a lower increase in TV-time on a week day (β = −15.7 min; P = 0.003) and weekend day (β = −18.9 min; P = 0.005), in total screen-time on a weekday (β = −25.9 min; P = 0.03) and in the proportion of adolescents that did not meet the screen-time recommendation (β = −4 percentage point; P = 0.01), compared to the control group. After the second stage (data from n = 1078 adolescents; control group n = 531), the TV-time on a weekday (β = 13.1 min; P = 0.02), and total screen-time on a weekday (β = 21.4 min; P = 0.03) increased more in adolescents from the intervention group. No adverse effects were reported.
Discussion and Conclusion
A multicomponent school-based intervention was only able to mitigate the increase in adolescents’ television time and total screen-time after the first stage of the intervention or in other words, when the intervention included specific components or activities that focused on reducing screen-time. After the second stage of the intervention, which only included components and activities related to improve healthy diet and physical activity and not to decrease the screen-time, the adolescents increased their screen-time again. Our findings might imply that reducing screen-time is only possible when the intervention focuses specifically on reducing screen-time.
Clinicaltrials.gov identifier NCT01004367.