B3556 - Associations between physical activity risk of alcohol-related harm in adolescence cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis - 23/06/2020

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Lesley Smith | University of Hull (United Kingdom)
Ms Saphsa Codling, Professor Thomas S Phillips, Professor Colin R Martin
Title of project: 
Associations between physical activity, risk of alcohol-related harm in adolescence: cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis
Proposal summary: 

Adolescence is a critical stage of life for the formation of both physical and mental health. Health behaviours and health status developed in adolescence often endure into adulthood and influence life expectancy. Health-risk behaviours such as excessive alcohol consumption and physical inactivity are not only linked with mental health, but are also two major contributors (globally) to disease in adulthood such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Adolescence is a time when physical activity levels decline, alcohol consumption increases and mental health states can deteriorate. However, conversely, research shows links between higher physical activity levels and higher levels of alcohol consumption (although largely this has been derived from non UK-based University/College populations). Advice given by a former UK Chief Medical Officer is that children should not drink at all before the age of 18 but certainly not before the age of 15. Excessive alcohol consumption can result in unwanted consequences (particularly in adolescence) such as being a perpetrator or victim of violence or other criminal activity, or unprotected (or regretted) sexual activity. Alcohol has been strongly linked to suicide in adolescence (the number one cause of preventable death); as well as more generally impacting or impeding healthy brain development. Other factors (which contribute to or cause inequalities in health outcomes) also should be considered when looking at health behaviours in adolescence e.g. socioeconomic status (SES), educational attainment, gender and psychosocial health. Those with a lower SES (SES - being typically derived from household income and education levels) tend to fare worse in health outcomes. Despite higher levels of physical activity being associated with higher SES in adolescence (as is a higher level of alcohol consumption), it appears that higher educational attainment (also correlated with higher SES) reduces the occurrence or frequency of binge-drinking. While those from lower SES backgrounds are more likely to experience greater harms from alcohol consumption. Gender contributes significantly to health inequalities, disadvantaging girls. In early adolescence, girls are more likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety or depressive disorder, more likely to have lower levels of physical activity and are more likely to be at risk of alcohol-related harm than their male equivalents. Mental health is becoming one of the biggest issues we face globally and has been strongly linked to physical activity/inactivity. Those that undertake regular physical activity are less likely to be depressed, but conversely are more likely to consume alcohol at higher levels (and in particular binge-drink). This research will seek to untangle the links between risk of alcohol-related harm and levels of physical activity at ages 13.5, 15.5 and 17.5 using data in the ‘Children of the 90’s cohort’ from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The research will determine associations or patterns at each time-point (age in years) and also make comparisons of changes over time. The individual-level analysis (longitudinal) will also utilise data for 24.5 year olds to compare with 17.5 year olds The following factors will be used as a means of explaining findings at each time-point, individually, and collectively: SES, educational attainment, gender and psychosocial health. The aim is to create new knowledge on the associations and patterns between physical activity and alcohol consumption levels across early to late adolescence in a UK population. Findings will inform further UK-based research on this topic.

Impact of research: 
Currently there is an absence of evidence in UK adolescents on the association between physical activity levels and alcohol consumption (particularly in early adolescence). This research will not only contribute to empirical evidence in this area but will also help to identify a population (or populations) that could benefit from early preventative measures to delay or prevent the onset of alcohol consumption during the critical early adolescence period.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 10 June, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 10 June, 2020
Biostatistics, behavioural science and prevention, Alcohol related harm Health risk behaviour Mental health, Statistical methods, Health risk behaviours Adolescent mental health Physical activity Alcohol consumption