Increased Screen Time Is Associated With Alcohol Desire and Sweetened Foods Consumption During the COVID-19 Pandemic

William R. Tebar*, Diego G. D. Christofaro, Tiego A. Diniz, Mara Cristina Lofrano-Prado, Joao Paulo Botero, Marilia de Almeida Correia, Gabriel G. Cucato, Raphael Mendes Ritti-Dias, Wagner Luiz do Prado

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Elevated screen time has been associated with addictive behaviors, such as alcohol and sugar intake and smoking. Considering the substantial increase in screen time caused by social isolation policies, this study aimed to analyze the association of increased screen time in different devices during the COVID-19 pandemic with consumption and increased desire of alcohol, smoking, and sweetened foods in adults. Methods: A sample of 1,897 adults with a mean age of 37.9 (13.3) years was assessed by an online survey, being composed by 58% of women. Participants were asked whether screen time in television, cell phone, and computer increased during the pandemic, as well as how much time is spent in each device. Closed questions assessed the frequency of alcohol and sweetened food consumption, smoking, and an increased desire to drink and smoke during the pandemic. Educational level, age, sex, feeling of stress, anxiety, depression, and use of a screen device for physical activity were covariates. Binary logistic regression models considered adjustment for covariates and for mutual habits. Results: Increased television time was associated with increased desire to drink (OR = 1.46, 95% CI: 1.12; 1.89) and increased sweetened food consumption (OR = 1.53, 95% CI: 1.18; 1.99), while an increase in computer use was negatively associated with consumption of alcohol (OR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.53; 0.86) and sweetened foods (OR = 0.78, 95% CI: 0.62; 0.98). Increased cell phone time was associated with increased sweetened food consumption during the pandemic (OR = 1.78, 95% CI: 1.18; 2.67). Participants with increased time in the three devices were less likely to consume sweetened foods for ≥5 days per week (OR = 0.63, 95% CI: 0.39; 0.99) but were twice as likely to have sweetened food consumption increased during pandemic (OR = 2.04, 95% CI: 1.07; 3.88). Conclusion: Increased screen time was differently associated with consumption and desire for alcohol and sweets according to screen devices. Increased time in television and cell phones need to be considered for further investigations of behavioral impairments caused by the pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number630586
Pages (from-to)630586
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021


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