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Health Educ Behav. 2010 Feb;37(1):51-64. doi: 10.1177/1090198107313481. Epub 2008 Jun 9.

Health behavior and academic achievement among adolescents: the relative contribution of dietary habits, physical activity, body mass index, and self-esteem.

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Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis, Reykjavik University, Iceland.


This study tested a structural equation model to estimate the relationship between health behaviors, body mass index (BMI), and self-esteem and the academic achievement of adolescents. The authors analyzed survey data from the 2000 study of Youth in Iceland , a population-based, cross-sectional sample of 6,346 adolescents in Iceland. The model demonstrated good fit with chi-square of 2685 (n = 5,810, df = 180), p < .001, Comparative Fit Index value of .94, and a root mean square error of approximation of .049. Lower BMI, physical activity, and good dietary habits were all associated with higher academic achievement; however, health behavior was positively and robustly associated with greater self-esteem. Self-esteem was positively influenced both through physical activity (beta = .16) and the consumption of fruits and vegetables (beta = .14). In contrast, poor dietary habits negatively influenced self-esteem and academic achievement, and self-esteem was negatively influenced by increasing levels of BMI (beta = -.05).

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