COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Differences in dietary patterns between overweight and normal-weight adolescents

Maria Jodkowska, Anna Oblacińska, Izabela Tabak, Katarzyna Radiukiewicz
Medycyna Wieku Rozwojowego 2011, 15 (3): 266-73
22006481

THE AIM OF THE STUDY: To investigate the differences in the dietary patterns of Polish overweight and normal weight adolescents.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study was carried out on a group of 1906 pupils from gymnasium (lower secondary school) aged 13-15 years, of whom 953 were overweight and 953 had normal body mass. The sample was taken from a representative group of 8386 pupils. Their height and body weight were measured, and their BMI was calculated. Overweight was defined as BMI ł85 percentile for gender and age. Using the method of "selection in pairs", each overweight pupil was paired with a pupil with normal body weight. The research tool was a self-reported questionnaire, containing questions regarding how often selected food products were usually consumed during the week, how regularly basic meals (breakfast, lunch, supper) were eaten, and data on snacking.

RESULTS: Overweight adolescents consumed unhealthy products such as sweets and crisps significantly less often than their peers with appropriate body mass. Overweight girls ate dark bread significantly more often, and consumed soft drinks less often than their peers with normal weight. Overweight adolescents had more irregular meals than those with normal weight: only 44% overweight adolescents had breakfast every day, significantly less than adolescents with normal weight. Nevertheless, overweight teenagers snacked significantly less often than young people with normal body mass. The overweight teenagers also less often chose snacks with high fat content, sugar and salt, and more often vegetables, fruits, as well as yoghurt and kefir.

CONCLUSIONS: 1. Our study shows that compliance of low energy diet alone does not ensure the maintenance of normal body weight. Irregularity of meals and breakfast skipping play an important role in developing overweight and obesity in adolescents. 2. In future studies on dietary patterns in a larger sample of adolescents, emphasis should be placed on adding questions about portion size, food preparation and meal time. Eating behaviours of parents should be also examined in relation to their body weight.

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