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Diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviour and perceptions of the environment in young adults

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Abstract Background: 

Few studies have explored both food behaviour and physical activity in an environmental context. Most research in this area has focused on adults; the aim of the present study was to describe perceptions of the environment, diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour patterns in 16–20 year olds in full-time education (Newcastle, UK). Methods: 

Participants (n = 73) recruited from a college and sixth-form college completed a UK version of the Youth Neighbourhood Environment Walkability Survey, which included measures of sedentary behaviour. A validated food frequency questionnaire was completed and a factor applied to produce an estimated mean daily frequency of intake of each item, which was converted to nutrient intakes. A rank for Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) was assigned to their home postcode. Analysis explored associations between sedentary behaviours and nutrient intake. Results: 

In this descriptive cross-sectional study, most participants reported being physically active for at least 1 h day−1 on 3–4 (n = 28) or 5–7 days (n = 31). There were no significant differences in nutrient intake according to sample quartile IMD position. Sedentary behaviours were significantly associated with less healthy eating patterns. Higher total energy (P =0.02), higher fat (P =0.005), percentage energy from fat (P =0.035) and lower carbohydrate intakes (P =0.004) were significantly associated with more time spent watching DVDs at the weekend. Conclusions: 

This combination of sedentary behaviour and less healthy eating patterns has important implications for long-term health (e.g. the tracking of being overweight and obesity from adolescence into adulthood). Understanding behaviour relationships is an important step in developing interventions in this age group.
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Keywords: diet; perceptions of the environment; physical activity; sedentary behaviour; young adults

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Human Nutrition Research Centre, IHS, Medical School, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK 2: Global Urban Research Unit, Newcastle University Newcastle, UK 3: Geography, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK 4: Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK

Publication date: 2009-10-01

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