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Trends in adolescent eating behaviour: a multilevel cross-sectional study of 11-15 year olds in Scotland, 2002-2010

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Kate Ann Levin, Joanna Louise Michelle Kirby, Candace Currie, Jo Inchley

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Background Improving the diet of the Scottish population has been a government focus in recent years. Health promotion is known to be more effective in affluent groups. Alongside trends in eating behaviour, changes in socioeconomic inequalities must be monitored.

Methods Eating behaviour data from the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Scotland Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children survey were modelled using multilevel linear modelling.

Results Fruit and vegetable consumption increased between 2002 and 2010 by 0.26 and 0.27 days per week, respectively, while consumption of sweets, chips and crisps fell by 0.73, 1.25 and 0.99 days per week, respectively. An overall healthy eating score, calculated by summing food item weekly consumption, increased significantly (at 95% level of significance) over this period. Fruit and vegetable consumption was more frequent among children with high family affluence (individual measure of socioeconomic status), while consumption of crisps and chips was less frequent. When an interaction term was added between year and family affluence, this was not significant for any outcome. Variance at the education authority and school levels remained significant for all outcomes.

Conclusions Adolescent eating behaviours in Scotland have improved over time across the family affluence scale gradient as a whole, with persistent inequalities. Alongside population programmes, initiatives directed at more deprived groups are required.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-531
JournalJournal of Public Health
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

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