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Unhealthy food consumption in adolescence: role of sedentary behaviours and modifiers in 11-, 13- and 15-year-old Italians

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Alberto Borraccino, Patrizia Lemma, Paola Berchialla, Nazario Cappello, Joanna Catherine Inchley, Paola Dalmasso, Lorena Charrier, Franco Cavallo, Italian HBSC 2010 Group

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Backgrounds and aim. Unhealthy eating behaviours increase with age and have been associated with adverse health consequences in adulthood. We examined the influence of screen-based sedentary behaviours (SBs) on unhealthy food consumption, such as energy-dense foods and sweetened drinks, among a representative sample of nearly 60 000 adolescents and assessed the role of possible modifiers.
Methods. Data come from the Italian 2009–10 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey. Data on Eating patterns, SBs, physical activity, peers network, BMI and socio-economic status (SES) were collected following the HBSC study protocol. Hierarchical logistic regression models were used.
Results. Unhealthy food consumption was significantly associated with a lower intake of fruit and vegetables and with the increase of SBs in both sexes and in all ages. The risk was interestingly higher in normal weight adolescents, in those with wider relationships with peers and in low SES children.
Conclusions. This study adds evidence to support the importance of investing more resources in educational initiatives both to increase parents’ awareness to support adolescents on dietary choices and on time spent in screen-based behaviours, independently of their adiposity status; and to develop youth’s ability to access and appropriately use media and technologies. Policy makers should also increase their attention on introducing regulatory policies on television food advertising to which youth are exposed.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-656
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Early online date16 Apr 2016
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016

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