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Socio-environmental, personal and behavioural predictors of fast-food intake among adolescents

  • Katherine W Bauer (a1), Nicole I Larson (a1), Melissa C Nelson (a1), Mary Story (a1) and Dianne Neumark-Sztainer (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980008004394
  • Published online: 01 October 2009
Abstract
AbstractObjective

To identify the socio-environmental, personal and behavioural factors that are longitudinally predictive of changes in adolescents’ fast-food intake.

Design

Population-based longitudinal cohort study.

Setting

Participants from Minnesota schools completed in-class assessments in 1999 (Time 1) while in middle school and mailed surveys in 2004 (Time 2) while in high school.

Subjects

A racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse sample of adolescents (n 806).

Results

Availability of unhealthy food at home, being born in the USA and preferring the taste of unhealthy foods were predictive of higher fast-food intake after 5 years among both males and females. Among females, personal and behavioural factors, including concern about weight and use of healthy weight-control techniques, were protective against increased fast-food intake. Among males, socio-environmental factors, including maternal and friends’ concern for eating healthy food and maternal encouragement to eat healthy food, were predictive of lower fast-food intake. Sports team participation was a strong risk factor for increased fast-food intake among males.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that addressing socio-environmental factors such as acculturation and home food availability may help reduce fast-food intake among adolescents. Additionally, gender-specific intervention strategies, including working with boys’ sports teams, family members and the peer group, and for girls, emphasizing the importance of healthy weight-maintenance strategies and the addition of flavourful and healthy food options to their diet, may help reduce fast-food intake.

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*Corresponding author: Email bauer223@umn.edu
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