The contribution of psychosocial and home environmental factors in explaining eating behaviours in adolescents

L Haerens, M Craeynest, B Deforche, L Maes, G Cardon, I De Bourdeaudhuij
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2008, 62 (1): 51-9

OBJECTIVE: The present study aimed at investigating the influence of food availability, rules and television viewing habits on eating behaviours in adolescents.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SETTING: Four randomly selected middle schools.

SUBJECTS: A sample of 534 seventh and eighth graders.

INTERVENTIONS: Validated questionnaires were used to measure the family environment and fat, soft drink and fruit consumption. Hierarchical regression analyses on fat, soft drink and fruit consumption, with demographic and psychosocial variables entered as the first and environmental factors as the second block were conducted in boys and girls.

RESULTS: Boys with more unhealthy products available at home consumed more fat (P< or =0.001, 95% CI: 8.2-29.4) and more soft drinks (P< or =0.01, 95% CI: 0.2-1.4). Boys who reported better television viewing habits ate more fruit (P< or =0.001, 95% CI: -1.7 to -0.5). Girls who reported better television viewing habits consumed less fat (P< or =0.01, 95% CI: 1.4-9.0) and more fruit (P< or =0.05, 95% CI: -1.0 to -0.1). Girls who reported higher availability of healthy products at home (P< or =0.05, 95% CI: 0.3-3.1) and more food rules (P< or =0.001, 95% CI: -1.8 to -0.5), consumed more fruit. Environmental factors were poor predictors of soft drink consumption among girls.

CONCLUSION: Availability of (un)healthy food products, family food rules and TV viewing habits were related to one or more eating behaviours in boys or girls. Although home environmental factors can play an important role in influencing adolescents' eating behaviours, these factors were generally less predictive than demographic and psychosocial variables.

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