Open Access Research article

Association of lifestyle habits and academic achievement in Norwegian adolescents: a cross-sectional study

Tonje H Stea* and Monica K Torstveit

Author Affiliations

Department of Public Health, Sport and Nutrition, University of Agder, Po Box 422, 4604 Kristiansand, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:829  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-829

Published: 11 August 2014

Abstract

Background

While healthy lifestyle habits are generally assumed to be important for high academic achievement, there has been little research on this topic among adolescents. The aim of this study was therefore to examine the associations between several lifestyle habits and academic achievement in adolescent girls and boys.

Methods

The study included 2,432 Norwegian adolescents, 15–17 years old. A self-report questionnaire was used to assess dietary-, physical activity-, smoking- and snuffing habits and academic achievement. Logistic regression models were adjusted for body mass index (BMI) and parental education.

Results

In both girls and boys, high academic achievement was associated with a regular consumption of breakfast (AOR: 3.30 (2.45-4.45) and AOR: 1.76 (1.32-2.34), respectively) and lunch (AOR: 1.44 (1.08-1.93) and AOR: 1.43 (1.09-1.89), respectively), and in boys, with a regular consumption of dinner (AOR: 1.44 (1.16-1.79)) and a regular meal pattern in general (AOR: 1.50 (1.10 – 2.03)). In both girls and boys, high academic achievement was associated with a high intake of fruit and berries (AOR: 2.09 (1.51-2.88) and AOR: 1.47 (1.04-2.07), respectively), and in girls, with a high intake of vegetables (AOR: 1.82 (1.30-2.53)). In both girls and boys, high academic achievement was associated with a high leisure time physical activity level (AOR: 1.51 (1.10-2.08) and AOR: 1.39 (1.05-1.85), respectively) and use of active commuting (AOR: 1.51 (1.10-2.08) and AOR: 1.72 (1.26-2.35), respectively). In both girls and boys, high academic achievement was associated with a low intake of lemonade (AOR: 0.42 (0.27-0.64) and AOR: 0.67 (0.48-0.94), respectively), and in girls, with a low intake of sugar-sweetened soft drinks (AOR: 0.47 (0.35- 0.64)) and salty snacks (AOR: 0.63 (0.47-0.85)). Lastly, high academic achievement was inversely associated with smoking and snuffing in both girls (AOR: 0.18 (0.12-0.25) and AOR: 0.25 (0.17-0.37), respectively) and boys (AOR: 0.37 (0.25-0.54) and AOR: 0.51 (0.36-0.72), respectively).

Conclusions

A regular meal pattern, an intake of healthy food items and being physically active were all associated with increased odds of high academic achievement, whereas the intake of unhealthy food and beverages, smoking cigarettes and snuffing were associated with decreased odds of high academic achievement in Norwegian adolescents.

Keywords:
Adolescents; Academic achievement; Diet; Meal pattern; Physical activity; Smoking; Snuffing