Food behaviors, movement behaviors and sleep: what links?


Comportements alimentaires mouvement et sommeil - édito Equation Nutrition - février 2023

Our lifestyles, i.e., diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviors and sleep, have long been known to have a direct impact on our physical and mental health. Indeed, physical inactivity, sedentary time and unhealthy diets figure among the four major risk factors of noncommunicable diseases responsible for 74% of all deaths worldwide (WHO, 2022). While some studies start suggesting that physical activity might be strongly associated with healthier eating habits (Pavicic ŽeŽelj, 2019), research is emerging on the association between sedentary behavior and diet as well as between diet and sleep.

This issue of the Global Fruit & Veg Newsletter shares three recent studies that aim to assess those links.

The first article highlights the role of diet, and particularly of fruit and vegetables in impacting sleep quality, with the most significant associations in women. Indeed, they observed improvements in insomnia symptoms, sleep quality, and time to fall asleep in women who increased fruit and vegetables intake by 3 or more servings compared to those who did not change or decreased their fruit and vegetables intake.

The second article analyzes the association between physical activity and eating habits during the COVID-19 quarantine among Brazilian adults. During this lockdown period, young adults mostly have experienced major changes in their behaviors, which make the originality of this article compared to others. Physical activity was positively associated to healthier eating habits (including fruit and vegetables intake) and inversely related to lower consumption of sweets and fried foods.

Finally, the association between sedentary behaviors and health-related behaviors was studied in the last article. According to the state of art, this is the first study to explore whether extended use of a variety of screen-based devices, in addition to television, was associated with dietary habits and other health-related characteristics and behaviors among US adults. Poorer dietary choices, as well as other negative health-related impacts, occurred more often as the viewing time of a variety of different screen-based devices increased.

Although the different components of our lifestyle are closely related to each other, studies evaluate their relationship with health independently. This stresses the need to conduct research that considers all four components with an integrated approach to better understand interactions.

David Thivel Professor, Clermont Auvergne University, FRANCE
About the author

David Thivel holds a PhD in Exercise Physiology and Human Nutrition (INRAE and Blaise Pascal University, France) and two postdoctoral positions, first at the New York Nutrition Obesity Research Center (Columbia University, USA) and then at the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (Ottawa, Canada).

David mainly works on the metabolic, energetic and nutritional adaptations to daily activities and exercise-versus dietary-induced energy deficits, particularly in pediatric obesity.

David currently leads the AME2P research laboratory (Clermont Auvergne University) and is president of the European Childhood Obesity Group (ECOG).

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