Media digitali e benessere di bambini e adolescenti in Ticino

+++Nuova Pubblicazione+++ The importance of a healthy lifestyle to prevent mental health problems during crisis situations: evidence from Corona Immunitas Ticino



26 Aprile 2024

Aim: The increasing frequency of epidemic, climate, and political crisis situations, compounded by modern life stress, is associated with a rise in mental health problems. Unhealthy lifestyle, including unhealthy eating habits, insufficient sleep, and scarce physical activity, may further contribute to mental health problems, especially in young populations. The aim of the present longitudinal study is to examine the impact of eating habits, sleep, and physical activity on mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic as a crisis situation.

Subject and methods: We analyzed longitudinal self-report data collected at baseline (T1), 4 (T2), 8 (T3), and 12 months from 1029 participants aged 5 to 21 during the COVID-19 pandemic within the Corona Immunitas Ticino project.

Results: Repeated-measures ANOVA showed a significant decrease in mental health problems from T1 to T3, with a slight increase at T4. Hierarchical linear regression analysis revealed that a decrease in unhealthy eating habits together with an increase in physical activity from T1 to T4 were negatively correlated with mental health problems at T4. On the other hand, an increase in sleep time over the same study period was positively associated with mental health problems at T4. Among covariates, women and adolescents experienced more mental health problems.

Conclusion: The findings support previous research that highlights the role of a healthy lifestyle, including healthy eating and physical activity, in reducing mental health problems during difficult life circumstances exacerbated by crisis situations. Age- and gender-sensitive targeted interventions promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors are thus essential.