Socio-economic differences in predictors of frequent dairy food consumption among Australian adolescents: a longitudinal study

Lena D Stephens, Sarah A McNaughton, David Crawford, Kylie Ball
Public Health Nutrition 2015, 18 (18): 3326-36

OBJECTIVE: Sufficient dairy food consumption during adolescence is necessary for preventing disease. While socio-economically disadvantaged adolescents tend to consume few dairy foods, some eat quantities more in line with dietary recommendations despite socio-economic challenges. Socio-economic variations in factors supportive of adolescents' frequent dairy consumption remain unexplored. The present study aimed to identify cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between intrapersonal, social and environmental factors and adolescents' frequent dairy consumption at baseline and two years later across socio-economic strata, and to examine whether socio-economic position moderated observed effects.

DESIGN: Online surveys completed at baseline (2004-2005) and follow-up (2006-2007) included a thirty-eight-item FFQ and questions based on social ecological models examining intrapersonal, social and environmental dietary influences.

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

SUBJECTS: Australian adolescents (n 1201) aged 12-15 years, drawn from a sub-sample of 3264 adolescents (response rate=33%).

RESULTS: While frequent breakfast consumption was cross-sectionally associated with frequent dairy consumption among all adolescents, additional associated factors differed by socio-economic position. Baseline dairy consumption longitudinally predicted consumption at follow-up. No further factors predicted frequent consumption among disadvantaged adolescents, while four additional factors were predictive among advantaged adolescents. Socio-economic position moderated two predictors; infrequently eating dinner alone and never purchasing from school vending machines predicted frequent consumption among advantaged adolescents.

CONCLUSIONS: Nutrition promotion initiatives aimed at improving adolescents' dairy consumption should employ multifactorial approaches informed by social ecological models and address socio-economic differences in influences on eating behaviours; e.g., selected intrapersonal factors among all adolescents and social factors (e.g., mealtime rules) among advantaged adolescents.

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