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The pilot study of the relationship between the application with the healthy-habits and depressive scores in youth

Author(s): Ha Yeon Choi, Jen Jen Chang, Jing Wang, Nam Hoon Roh, Hye Eun Jeong, Yeon Kyung Jung, Dong Hyun Noh, Hee Jeong Yoo


Insufficient sunlight exposure, high junk food consumption, and sleep deprivation are known risk factors for decreased mental wellbeing, including elevated depressive symptoms and higher suicidality. The aforementioned risk factors for poor mental health are common among Korean adolescents. This study examined the effects of a school-based healthy-habits promotion intervention on depressive symptoms in Korean middle school students.

Methods and Findings

This intervention study with a pre-test/post-test design included 617 middle school students aged 13 to 15 in Seongnam, South Korea from April 2013 to November 2013. The 8-month educational intervention consisted of 3 slogans: 1) Sunlight exposure > 30 minutes a day, 2) No junk food, and 3) Healthy sleep. The primary outcome was depressive symptoms as measured by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Secondary outcomes included the number of days with sunlight exposure > 30 min/day, junk food consumption in a week, the frequency of staying up late, and problems with sleepiness. After controlling for confounders, the intervention was associated with a significant increase in the number of days of sunlight exposure of > 30 min/day (OR: 4.35, 95% CI: 3.20, 5.91) compared to before intervention. The intervention was associated with reduced odds of elevated depressive symptoms by 35% (OR: 0.65, 95% CI: 0.49, 0.85) compared to before intervention after adjustment for confounders.


These results suggest that school-based educational and behavioral intervention focused on healthy habits may decrease depressive symptoms in adolescents. Findings from our study could have significant clinical and public health implications in reducing depressive symptoms among adolescents through behavior and lifestyle changes.

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