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Healthy behaviours and abdominal adiposity in adolescents from southern Italy

  • Paola Iaccarino Idelson (a1), Luca Scalfi (a2), Nicola Vaino (a3), Sara Mobilia (a1), Concetta Montagnese (a2), Adriana Franzese (a1) and Giuliana Valerio (a3)...
Abstract Objective

The present study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of meeting health recommendations on diet and physical activity (having breakfast, eating fruit and vegetables, consumption of milk/yoghurt, performing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, limiting television watching) and to assess junk snack food consumption in adolescents from southern Italy. The association between healthy behaviours and abdominal adiposity was also examined.


In a cross-sectional protocol, anthropometric data were measured by trained operators while other data were collected through a structured interview.


Three high schools in Naples, Italy.


A sample of 478 students, aged 14–17 years, was studied.


The proportion of adolescents who met each of the health recommendations varied: 55·4 % had breakfast on ≥6 d/week; 2·9 % ate ≥5 servings of fruit and vegetables/d; 1·9 % had ≥3 servings of milk/yoghurt daily; 13·6 % performed moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for ≥60 min/d; and 46·3 % watched television for <2 h/d. More than 65 % of adolescents consumed ≥1 serving of junk snack foods/d. Only 5 % fulfilled at least three recommendations. Healthy habits tended to correlate with each other. As the number of health recommendations met decreased, the percentage of adolescents with high abdominal adiposity (waist-to-height ratio ≥0·5) increased. The trend was not significant when the proportion of overweight/obese adolescents was considered. Logistic regression analysis indicated that male gender and watching television for ≥2 h/d were independently associated with a higher waist-to-height ratio.


Most adolescents failed to meet the five health recommendations considered. Male gender and excessive television watching were associated with abdominal adiposity.

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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
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