PURPOSE: This study was designed to examine (1) the types of technologies or other applications (apps) emerging adults use to track their eating, physical activity, or weight; (2) who uses these apps and (3) whether eating and weight-related concerns during adolescence predict app use in emerging adulthood.
METHODS: Longitudinal survey data were obtained from EAT 2010-2018 (Eating and Activity over Time study, N = 1428), a population-based sample of ethnically/racially and socioeconomically diverse adolescents (mean age: 14.5 ± 2.0 years), who were followed into emerging adulthood (mean age: 22.0 ± 2.0 years). Data were used to examine sociodemographic correlates of physical activity- and dietary-focused app use. Adjusted, gender-stratified logistic regressions were used to investigate longitudinal relationships between eating and weight-related concerns in adolescence and app use in emerging adulthood.
RESULTS: Compared to men, women were more likely to use physical activity- (23.2 versus 12.5%, p < 0.001) and dietary-focused apps (16.1 versus 5.5%, p < 0.001). Among women, eating and weight-related concerns in adolescence, particularly unhealthy muscle-building behaviors (OR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.03-2.92), were associated with later dietary-focused app use. Among men, use of other muscle-building behaviors and body dissatisfaction in adolescence predicted use of physical activity- (OR other muscle-building = 1.60, 95% CI 1.03-2.49 and OR body dissatisfaction = 1.67, 95% CI 1.06-2.65) and dietary-focused (OR other muscle-building = 2.18, 95% CI 1.07-4.47 and OR body dissatisfaction = 2.35, 95% CI 1.12-4.92) apps 8 years later.
CONCLUSIONS: Eating and weight-related concerns may predict later use of physical activity- and dietary-focused apps; future research is needed to understand whether use of such apps further increases eating and weight-related concerns.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III, well-designed longitudinal cohort study.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (Grant numbers: R35HL139853 and R01HL127077, PI: D. Neumark-Sztainer). SLH and VMH were funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (Grant number: T32MH082761, PI: S. Crow). KAL was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant number: K23HD090324-02, PI: Katie Loth). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, or the National Institutes of Health.
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
- Eating behaviors
- Eating disorders
- Physical activity
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article