Early sexual intercourse: Associations with adolescents’ physical activity and sedentary behavior

Raquel Nogueira Avelar E Silva, Anne Wijtzes, Daphne van de Bongardt, P van de Looij-Jansen, Rienke Bannink, Hein Raat

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Abstract

Objectives: To assess the prospective associations of physical activity behaviors and screen time with early sexual intercourse initiation (i.e., before 15 years) in a large sample of adolescents. Methods: We used two waves of data from the Rotterdam Youth Monitor, a longitudinal study conducted in the Netherlands. The analysis sample consisted of 2,141 adolescents aged 12 to 14 years (mean age at baseline = 12.2 years, SD = 0.43). Physical activity (e.g., sports outside school), screen time (e.g., computer use), and early sexual intercourse initiation were assessed by means of self-report questionnaires. Logistic regression models were tested to assess the associations of physical activity behaviors and screen time (separately and simultaneously) with early sexual intercourse initiation, controlling for confounders (i.e., socio-demographics and substance use). Interaction effects with gender were tested to assess whether these associations differed significantly between boys and girls. Results: The only physical activity behavior that was a significant predictor of early sexual intercourse initiation was sports club membership. Adolescent boys and girls who were members of a sports club) were more likely to have had early sex (OR = 2.17; 95% CI = 1.33, 3.56. Significant gender interaction effects indicated that boys who watched TV ?2 hours/day (OR = 2.00; 95% CI = 1.08, 3.68) and girls who used the computer ?2 hours/day (OR = 3.92; 95% CI = 1.76, 8.69) were also significantly more likely to have engaged in early sex. Conclusion: These findings have implications for professionals in general pediatric healthcare, sexual health educators, policy makers, and parents, who should be aware of these possible prospective links between sports club membership, TV watching (for boys), and computer use (for girls), and early sexual intercourse initiation. However, continued research on determinants of adolescents’ early sexual initiation is needed to further contribute to the strategies for improving adolescents’ healthy sexual development and behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS One (online)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2016

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