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Eating habits of 11–14-year-old schoolchildren living in less affluent areas of Liverpool, UK

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Abstract:

Aim: To provide baseline data concerning the eating habits of young adolescents which will enable trends to be identified, the factors affecting food choice to be explored and a programme of intervention to be designed and evaluated.Methods: A dietary screening survey, delivered by computer, was completed by 707 schoolchildren aged 11–14 years attending schools in two of the least affluent areas of Liverpool. Eating habits were compared to two previous studies which used an identical computerized dietary survey method.Results: The results suggest that many children chose the least desirable foods, which is likely to result in them eating a poor quality diet. The most popular foods included snack foods such as crisps, chocolates and sweets, and sugared fizzy drinks and chips. A number of trends were noted: there was a decrease in the reported consumption of added sugar and high-fibre cereals, and an increase in the use of low-fat milk. Boys claimed to be more active than girls, and there was an inverse relationship between physical activities and watching TV and playing computer games in girls. The results showed similar eating patterns and physical activity levels to those from other more complex studies.Conclusion: The responses of the children indicated, at the very least, some increasing awareness of healthy eating messages, but whether changes in behaviour were occurring is less clear. There is still, however, scope for further positive change in eating habits and the survey will be repeated at regular intervals to examine trends.

Keywords: computer survey; eating habits; schoolchildren

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-277X.1997.00046.x

Affiliations: Department of Community Nutrition and Dietetics, North Mersey Community Trust, and *Division of Education and Community Studies, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK

Publication date: 1997-01-01

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