02nd Jun 2023

Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have profoundly impacted the mental health of school-age children. Adhering to recommendations regarding 24-h behaviour, including physical activity, minimizing sedentary behaviour, and ensuring adequate sleep, can maintain mental health. This study assessed the associations between 24-h behaviours and mental health among Ukrainian children and adolescents in the unique context of war and the pandemic.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey online was conducted among parents of Ukrainian children aged 7-18 (n=1243, 51% boys) in 2022 using questionnaires Q-RAPF and RCADS-P-25. Compositional Data Analysis (CoDA) was employed to analyze the data. The models were adjusted for gender, age, body mass index, and combat activity by the place of residence.
Results: CoDA analysis revealed that increasing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (β=-0.09, p<0.01) and sleep duration (β=-0.15, p<0.01) were significantly associated with improved mental health. Conversely, increased sedentary behaviour (β=0.19, p<0.001) was associated with increased anxiety and depression t-scores. The impact of war exacerbated the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle on mental health (β_interaction=0.23, p<0.001).
Conclusions: Our findings highlight the importance of promoting balanced 24-hour activity behaviors in Ukrainian children and adolescents to support their mental health, especially during times of crisis. Interventions should focus on increasing physical activity levels, reducing sedentary behavior, and promoting sufficient sleep duration. In addition, public health policies and school-based programs should incorporate strategies to enhance activity behaviors and mental well-being in this vulnerable population.

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