Coached extracurricular activities may help prevent pre-adolescent smoking and drinking

April 30, 2014, The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Dartmouth researchers have found that tweens (preadolescents aged 10-14) who participate in a coached team sport a few times a week or more are less likely to try smoking. Their findings on the relationship between extracurricular activity and health risk behaviors are reported in "The relative roles of types of extracurricular activity on smoking and drinking initiation among tweens," which was recently published in Academic Pediatrics.

"How children spend their time matters," said lead author Anna M. Adachi-Mejia, PhD, a member of Norris Cotton Cancer Center's Cancer Control Research Program. "In a nationally representative sample we found that tweens who participate in with a were less likely to try smoking. Parents and guardians may think that tweens need less adult supervision when they are not in school. However, our research suggests that certain coached extracurricular activities can help prevent tween smoking and drinking."

Researchers conducted a telephone survey of 6,522 US students between 10 and 14 years old in 2003 to determine if the influence of any kind of sport, versus sports where a coach is present, would be associated with risk of smoking and drinking. They developed a novel approach to examine the relation between extracurricular activities and adolescent smoking and drinking. Measures included participation in with a coach, other sports without a coach, music, school clubs, and other clubs. A little over half of the students reported participating in team sports with a coach (55.5 percent) and without a coach (55.4 percent) a few times per week or more. Many had minimal to no participation in school clubs (74.2 percent); however, most reported being involved in other clubs (85.8 percent). A little less than half participated in music, choir, dance, and/or band lessons. Over half of participants involved in religious activity did those activities a few times per week or more.

The study found that team sport participation with a coach was the only extracurricular activity associated with lower risk of trying smoking compared to none or minimal participation. Participating in other clubs was the only extracurricular activity associated with lower risk of trying drinking compared to none or minimal participation. Their analyses controlled for over twenty measures of characteristics and behaviors known to be associated with .

Other studies examining teen extracurricular activity have focused on academic outcomes and adolescent development, or have focused on alcohol and marijuana use more than tobacco when examining .

"Unlike those studies, we examined a younger age group, and we focused on the relationship between extracurricular activity and health risk behaviors," said Adachi-Mejia. "Rather than asking about sports participation in the context of activity only, we framed our questions to ask about team sports participation with a coach and participation in other sports without a coach—none of the other studies have asked specifically about coaching."

We know that team sports participation offers cardiovascular and other benefits, including obesity prevention. This study shows that specific type may be associated with risk of youth and drinking initiation. And while more research is needed to better understand the underlying reasons behind these differences, Adachi-Mejia notes that the study offers yet another reason to be thinking about what kinds of team sports offerings are available for youth.

"Unfortunately, in the transition from the tween to adolescent years, coached sports teams face pressure to shift from a philosophy of inclusion to a greater emphasis on winning," she said. "This shift potentially shuts out tweens with fewer skills and/or lesser interest in facing the pressures associated with increased competition. I'd like to encourage communities and schools to explore the possibility of offering noncompetitive, affordable team sports with a coach."

Explore further: Activities the key to avoiding teenage binge drinking

Related Stories

Activities the key to avoiding teenage binge drinking

April 9, 2014
Young teenagers with early pubertal timing are less likely to follow risky binge drinking trajectories across high school when they participated in structured activities revealed a new study from Murdoch University.

Take the bat, leave the candy: Researchers find unhealthy foodscape at youth baseball field

April 24, 2014
'Take me out to the ballgame' doesn't exactly conjure up images of apple slices and kale chips. The more likely culprits include French fries, soda and the occasional box of Crackerjacks.

Camaraderie of sports teams may deter bullying, violence

May 5, 2013
As schools around the country look for ways to reduce violence and bullying, they may want to consider encouraging students to participate in team sports, according to a study to be presented Sunday, May 5, at the Pediatric ...

Teens in arts report depressive symptoms, study says

November 20, 2012
Teens who participate in after-school arts activities such as music, drama and painting are more likely to report feeling depressed or sad than students who are not involved in these programs, according to new research published ...

Metastudy on correlations of sports participation and substance abuse

December 10, 2013
Following a review of published studies, McMaster researchers have found that participation in sport raises the chance of adolescents and young adults abusing alcohol.

Recommended for you

Babies fed soy-based formula have changes in reproductive system tissues

March 12, 2018
Infants who consumed soy-based formula as newborns had differences in some reproductive-system cells and tissues, compared to those who used cow-milk formula or were breastfed, according to a new study. The researchers say ...

Are newborns ugly? Research says newborns rated 'less cute' than older babies

March 9, 2018
Parents who aren't feeling that magical bond with their newborn babies need not panic.

Babies who look like their father at birth are healthier one year later: study

March 5, 2018
Infants who resemble their father at birth are more likely to spend time together with their father, in turn, be healthier when they reach their first birthday, according to new research co-conducted by faculty at Binghamton ...

App connects mothers with lactation experts, improve breastfeeding rates

February 27, 2018
A newly developed proactive app could instantly connect breastfeeding mothers with pediatricians or lactation consultants to help collect data, monitor patients and provide consultation and support while improving breastfeeding ...

Study finds only half of infants with deadly meningitis show traditional signs of the disease

February 26, 2018
Researchers at St George's, University of London, say their new study shows the classic symptoms associated with bacterial meningitis are uncommon in young infants less than three months of age – the group at highest risk ...

The effects of happiness and sadness on children's snack consumption

February 19, 2018
A University of Texas at Dallas psychologist has examined the preconceptions about the effects of emotions on children's eating habits, creating the framework for future studies of how dietary patterns evolve in early childhood.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.