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Adolescent dietary patterns are associated with lifestyle and family psycho-social factors

  • Gina L Ambrosini (a1) (a2), Wendy H Oddy (a1) (a2), Monique Robinson (a1) (a3), Therese A O’Sullivan (a1), Beth P Hands (a4), Nick H de Klerk (a1), Sven R Silburn (a5), Stephen R Zubrick (a5), Garth E Kendall (a6), Fiona J Stanley (a1) and Lawrence J Beilin (a7)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 October 2009

Dietary intake during adolescence contributes to lifelong eating habits and the development of early risk factors for disease in adulthood. Few studies have examined the dietary patterns of adolescents and the social and environmental factors that may affect them during this life stage. The present study describes dietary patterns in a cohort of adolescents and examines their associations with socio-economic factors, as well as parental and adolescent risk factor behaviours.


A semi-quantitative FFQ was used to assess study adolescents’ usual dietary intake over the previous year. Information was collected on family functioning and various socio-economic and risk factor variables via questionnaire. Adolescents visited the study clinic for anthropometric measurements.


The Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study (Raine Study), Perth, Western Australia.


Adolescents (n 1631) aged 14 years from a pregnancy cohort study.


Factor analysis identified two distinct dietary patterns that differed predominantly in fat and sugar intakes. The ‘Western’ pattern consisted of high intakes of take-away foods, soft drinks, confectionery, French fries, refined grains, full-fat dairy products and processed meats. The ‘healthy’ pattern included high intakes of whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes and fish. ANOVA showed that the ‘Western’ dietary pattern was positively associated with greater television viewing and having a parent who smoked, and was inversely associated with family income. The ‘healthy’ pattern was positively associated with female gender, greater maternal education, better family functioning and being in a two-parent family, and was inversely associated with television viewing.


The study suggests that both lifestyle factors and family psycho-social environment are related to dietary patterns in Australian adolescents.

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