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Increased sedentary behaviour is associated with unhealthy dietary patterns in European adolescents participating in the HELENA study




To assess dietary patterns (DPs) in European adolescents and to examine their relationship with several indicators of sedentary behaviour.


A multinational cross-sectional study was carried out in 2202 adolescents (45.4% boys) aged 12.5–17.5 years. A self-reported questionnaire with information on sedentary behaviours, separately for weekdays and weekend days, and two non-consecutive 24 h-recalls were used. Principal component analysis was used to obtain DPs, and linear regression examined the association between DPs scores and sedentary behaviour.


Four DPs for boys (‘plant based’, ‘snacking’, ‘breakfast’ and ‘health conscious’) and five DPs for girls (‘confectionary and snacking’, ‘plant based’, ‘breakfast’, ‘animal protein’ and ‘health conscious’) were obtained. Boys who spent >4 h/day watching television (TV) had lower adherence to the ‘plant based’, ‘breakfast’ and ‘health conscious’ DPs, and higher adherence to the ‘snacking’ DP. Higher computer use and internet use for recreational reason were associated with higher adherence to the ‘snacking’ DP. In girls, TV viewing and using internet for recreational reasons for >4 h/day was associated with higher adherence to the ‘confectionary and snacking’ and lower adherence with ‘health conscious’ DP. Also, studying between 2 and 4 h during weekend days was associated with lower adherence to the ‘snacking’ and with higher adherence to the ‘plant based’ and ‘breakfast’ DPs.


Adolescents’ DPs are related with the time spent in several sedentary behaviours. Such findings may help to generate interventions focusing on decreasing unhealthy dietary habits and specific sedentary behaviours.

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We thank all members of the study teams and especially the adolescents and their parents for their participation in the study. This work was carried out as part of the HELENA study ( We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the European Community sixth RTD Framework Programme (Contract FOOD-CT-2005-007034). In addition the first author, AM Santaliestra-Pasías, received financial support by Fundación Cuenca Villoro (Spain) and M Cuenca-García received financial support by Spanish Ministry of Education (AP-2008-03806). The content of this article reflects only the authors’ views, and the European Community is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

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Correspondence to A M Santaliestra-Pasías.

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Appendix HELENA Study Group

Co-ordinator: Luis A Moreno.

Core Group members: Luis A Moreno, Fréderic Gottrand, Stefaan De Henauw, Marcela González-Gross, Chantal Gilbert.

Steering Committee: Anthony Kafatos (President), Luis A Moreno, Christian Libersa, Stefaan De Henauw, Sara Castelló, Fréderic Gottrand, Mathilde Kersting, Michael Sjöstrom, Dénes Molnár, Marcela González-Gross, Jean Dallongeville, Chantal Gilbert, Gunnar Hall, Lea Maes, Luca Scalfi.

Project Manager: Pilar Meléndez.

Universidad de Zaragoza (Spain). Luis A Moreno, Jesús Fleta, José A Casajús, Gerardo Rodríguez, Concepción Tomás, María I Mesana, Germán Vicente-Rodríguez, Adoración Villarroya, Carlos M Gil, Ignacio Ara, Juan Revenga, Carmen Lachen, Juan Fernández Alvira, Gloria Bueno, Aurora Lázaro, Olga Bueno, Juan F León, Jesús Ma Garagorri, Manuel Bueno, Juan Pablo Rey López, Iris Iglesia, Paula Velasco, Silvia Bel, Luis A Gracia Marco, Theodora Mouratidou.

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain). Ascensión Marcos, Julia Wärnberg, Esther Nova, Sonia Gómez, Ligia Esperanza Díaz, Javier Romeo, Ana Veses, Belén Zapatera, Tamara Pozo, David Martínez.

Université de Lille 2 (France). Laurent Beghin, Christian Libersa, Frédéric Gottrand, Catalina Iliescu, Juliana Von Berlepsch.

Research Institute of Child Nutrition Dortmund, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (Germany). Mathilde Kersting, Wolfgang Sichert-Hellert, Ellen Koeppen.

Pécsi Tudományegyetem (University of Pécs) (Hungary). Dénes Molnar, Eva Erhardt, Katalin Csernus, Katalin Török, Szilvia Bokor, Mrs Angster, Enikö Nagy, Orsolya Kovács, Judit Répasi.

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Istituto Nazionalen di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione (Italy). Davide Arcella, Elena Azzini, Emma Barrison, Noemi Bevilacqua, Pasquale Buonocore, Giovina Catasta, Laura Censi, Donatella Ciarapica, Paola D'Acapito, Marika Ferrari, Myriam Galfo, Cinzia Le Donne, Catherine Leclercq, Giuseppe Maiani, Beatrice Mauro, Lorenza Mistura, Antonella Pasquali, Raffaela Piccinelli, Angela Polito, Raffaella Spada, Stefania Sette, Maria Zaccaria.

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Ghent University (Belgium). Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Stefaan De Henauw, Tineke De Vriendt, Lea Maes, Christophe Matthys, Carine Vereecken, Mieke de Maeyer, Charlene Ottevaere, Inge Huybrechts.

Medical University of Vienna (Austria). Kurt Widhalm, Katharina Phillipp, Sabine Dietrich, Birgit Kubelka, Marion Boriss-Riedl.

Harokopio University (Greece). Yannis Manios, Eva Grammatikaki, Zoi Bouloubasi, Tina Louisa Cook, Sofia Eleutheriou, Orsalia Consta, George Moschonis, Ioanna Katsaroli, George Kraniou, Stalo Papoutsou, Despoina Keke, Ioanna Petraki, Elena Bellou, Sofia Tanagra, Kostalenia Kallianoti, Dionysia Argyropoulou, Katerina Kondaki, Stamatoula Tsikrika, Christos Karaiskos.

Institut Pasteur de Lille (France). Jean Dallongeville, Aline Meirhaeghe.

Karolinska Institutet (Sweden). Michael Sjöstrom, Jonatan R Ruiz, Francisco B Ortega, María Hagströmer, Anita Hurtig Wennlöf, Lena Hallström, Emma Patterson, Lydia Kwak, Julia Wärnberg, Nico Rizzo.

Asociación de Investigación de la Industria Agroalimentaria (Spain). Jackie Sánchez-Molero, Sara Castelló, Elena Picó, Maite Navarro, Blanca Viadel, José Enrique Carreres, Gema Merino, Rosa Sanjuán, María Lorente, María José Sánchez.

Campden BRI (United Kingdom). Chantal Gilbert, Sarah Thomas, Elaine Allchurch, Peter Burgess.

SIK - Institutet foer Livsmedel och Bioteknik (Sweden). Gunnar Hall, Annika Astrom, Anna Sverkén, Agneta Broberg.

Meurice Recherche & Development asbl (Belgium). Annick Masson, Claire Lehoux, Pascal Brabant, Philippe Pate, Laurence Fontaine.

Campden & Chorleywood Food Development Institute (Hungary). Andras Sebok, Tunde Kuti, Adrienn Hegyi.

Productos Aditivos SA (Spain). Cristina Maldonado, Ana Llorente.

Cárnicas Serrano SL (Spain). Emilio García.

Cederroth International AB (Sweden). Holger von Fircks, Marianne Lilja Hallberg, Maria Messerer.

Lantmännen Food R&D (Sweden). Mats Larsson, Helena Fredriksson, Viola Adamsson, Ingmar Börjesson.

European Food Information Council (Belgium). Laura Fernández, Laura Smillie, Josephine Wills.

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain). Marcela González-Gross, Jara Valtueña, David Jiménez-Pavón, Ulrike Albers, Raquel Pedrero, Agustín Meléndez, Pedro J Benito, Juan José Gómez Lorente, David Cañada, Alejandro Urzanqui, Rosa María Torres, Paloma Navarro.

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Santaliestra-Pasías, A., Mouratidou, T., Huybrechts, I. et al. Increased sedentary behaviour is associated with unhealthy dietary patterns in European adolescents participating in the HELENA study. Eur J Clin Nutr 68, 300–308 (2014).

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  • sedentary behaviours
  • dietary patterns
  • television
  • adolescents

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