Predictors of high-energy foods and beverages: a longitudinal study among socio-economically disadvantaged adolescents

Lena D Stephens, Sarah A McNaughton, David Crawford, Kylie Ball
Public Health Nutrition 2014, 17 (2): 324-37

OBJECTIVE: While socio-economically disadvantaged adolescents tend to have poor dietary intakes, some manage to eat healthily. Understanding how some disadvantaged adolescents restrict high-energy foods and beverages may inform initiatives promoting healthier diets among this population. The present investigation aimed to: (i) identify disadvantaged adolescents' high-energy food and beverage intakes; and (ii) explore cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between intrapersonal, social and environmental factors and disadvantaged adolescents' high-energy food intakes.

DESIGN: Longitudinal online surveys were completed at baseline (2004-2005) and follow-up (2006-2007), each comprising a thirty-eight-item FFQ and questions examining intrapersonal, social and environmental factors.

SETTING: Thirty-seven secondary schools in metropolitan and non-metropolitan Victoria, Australia.

SUBJECTS: Of 1938 adolescents aged 12-15 years participating at both time points, 529 disadvantaged adolescents (whose mothers had low education levels) were included in the present investigation.

RESULTS: At baseline and follow-up, respectively 32% and 39% of adolescents consumed high-energy foods less frequently (≤2 high-energy food meals/week); 61% and 65% consumed high-energy beverages less frequently (≤1 time/d). More girls than boys had less frequent high-energy food intakes, and baseline consumption frequency predicted consumption frequency at follow-up. Adolescents with less frequent consumption of high-energy foods and beverages seldom ate fast food for main meals, reported reduced availability of high-energy foods at home and were frequently served vegetables at dinner.

CONCLUSIONS: Nutrition promotion initiatives could help improve disadvantaged adolescents' eating behaviours by promoting adolescents and their families to replace high-energy meals with nutritious home-prepared meals and decrease home availability of high-energy foods in place of more nutritious foods.

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