Ecological Momentary Assessment of Urban Adolescents’ Technology Use and Cravings for Unhealthy Snacks and Drinks: Differences by Ethnicity and Sex

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

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Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion



Adolescents’ technology use is generally associated with food cravings, but it is not clear whether specific types of technology elicit particular types of cravings or whether personal characteristics play a role in these associations.


We examined whether momentary associations between four technology types (ie, television, video games, computer messaging, and phone messaging) and cravings for unhealthy snack foods and sweetened drinks were moderated by youths’ sex, ethnicity, body mass index, and age.


Urban adolescents (N=158) aged 14 to 17 years provided momentary information about their technology use and food cravings during the course of 1 week and completed survey reports of their personal characteristics. We used multilevel modeling to determine momentary associations and interactions.


Non-Hispanic adolescents showed stronger associations between television exposure and cravings for sweet snacks, salty snacks, and sweetened drinks. Being Hispanic was associated with stronger associations between phone messaging and cravings for sweet snacks, salty snacks, and sweetened drinks. Males showed stronger associations between video game use and salty snack cravings.


As the public health field continues to monitor the effects of technology use on adolescents’ eating and overall health, it will be important to determine the extent to which these groups are differentially affected by different forms of technology.

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