Dietary patterns and changes in inner city adolescents

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The aim of this study was to assess the dietary patterns of a sample of 479 young people aged 13–14 years living in an inner city location in London. The results revealed that although a good level of basic nutritional knowledge was displayed by most of the sample, their attitudes towards food and health were mixed and their involvement in domestic food chores was very limited. Sixty per cent reported consuming three or more snacks on the previous day, and over 33% regularly ate fast foods or take-aways at school lunch times. Analysis of food frequency data revealed that males were more likely to consume a less healthy diet than females, as were individuals from manual households compared to those living in non-manual households. A high proportion of the sample reported changing elements of their diets, with 36.4% claiming to have reduced their fat intakes and 33.5% reducing their sugar intakes within the previous 6 months. The main reason for changing their fat or sugar intakes was a desire to improve appearance, with direct health considerations being less important. A range of social and structural factors were identified as having an influence on young people's ability to make future changes. The implications of these findings for health promotion interventions are discussed.

Keywords: adolescent; diet change; dietary patterns; inner city

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL Medical School, 1–19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6EA, UK

Publication date: January 1, 1996

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