Researchers studying how children’s daily activities are associated with their health have developed a web app that shows users how reallocating time in their day from one activity to another could impact their health and school performance . The new app and the data used to develop it are described in an article published this week in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Dorothea Dumuid of the University of South Australia and colleagues.
How we use our time can affect our health, well-being, and productivity, but relationships between time use and outcomes can be difficult for healthcare professionals and the general public to interpret.
In the new study, researchers used data from 1,685 children aged eleven to twelve enrolled in the Australian Child Health CheckPoint Study. Time spent on daily activities was derived from a self-reported 24-hour recall tool in which children recalled activities they had done the previous day with a granularity of 5 minutes. Data on body fat percentage, psychosocial health, and school performance were also available for each participant. They found that after adjusting for age, socioeconomic status, and puberty, how people used their time was significantly associated with body fat percentage (F=2.66, p<0.001 ), psychosocial health (F=4.02, p<0.001) and school performance. (F=2.76, p<0.001).
To convey the strength of these associations in an easy-to-understand and interactive way, the authors developed a web-based application, dubbed the Healthy-Day-App, in which users enter their initial time allocations and then see how changes in their time use would be associated with outcomes. For example, reallocating 60 minutes of screen time to physical activity is associated, on average, with a 4.2% reduction in body fat (-0.8 [95% CI -1.0 to -0.5] percentage units), 2.5% better psychosocial health (+1.9 [1.4 to 2.5] psychosocial health score PedsQL) and 0.9% higher academic performance (+4.5 [1.8 to 7.2] NAPLAN write partition). However, the benefits may be less if the time spent on physical activity is reallocated to other activities.
The authors claim that the Healthy-Day app is the first to allow personalized estimation of the impact of time allocations and that it can enable better engagements and understanding of data not only by researchers, but also by sponsors. public health, doctors, fitness professionals. professionals, decision-makers and members of the general public.
The authors add: “Sleeping, exercising, spending time in front of a screen, doing homework – there are many competing demands on our children’s time, as a day is only ever 24 hours. We present an online time reallocation tool that allows us to compare the different uses of time offs are believed to influence the health and well-being of children.”
Dumuid, D. et al. (2022) Your best day: An interactive application to translate how time reassignments in a 24-hour day are associated with health measures. PLOS ONE. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0272343.