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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24453. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024453. Epub 2011 Sep 1.

Associations between screen time and physical activity among Spanish adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Physical Education, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Campus Universitario de Tafira s/n, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.



Excessive time in front of a single or several screens could explain a displacement of physical activity. The present study aimed at determining whether screen-time is associated with a reduced level of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in Spanish adolescents living in favorable environmental conditions.


A multi-stage stratified random sampling method was used to select 3503 adolescents (12-18 years old) from the school population of Gran Canaria, Spain. MVPA, screen-time in front of television, computer, video game console and portable console was assessed in the classroom by fulfilling a standardized questionnaire. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses adjusted by a set of social-environmental variables were carried out. Forty-six percent of girls (95% CI±2.3%) and 26% of boys (95% CI±2.1%) did not meet the MVPA recommendations for adolescents. Major gender differences were observed in the time devoted to vigorous PA, video games and the total time spent on screen-based activities. Boys who reported 4 hours•week(-1) or more to total screen-time showed a 64% (OR = 0.61, 95% CI, 0.44-0.86) increased risk of failing to achieve the recommended adolescent MVPA level. Participation in organized physical activities and sports competitions were more strongly associated with MVPA than screen-related behaviors.


No single screen-related behavior explained the reduction of MVPA in adolescents. However, the total time accumulated through several screen-related behaviors was negatively associated with MVPA level in boys. This association could be due to lower availability of time for exercise as the time devoted to sedentary screen-time activities increases. Participation in organized physical activities seems to counteract the negative impact of excessive time in front of screens on physical activity.

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