Describing independent eating occasions among low-income adolescents

Jinan Banna, Rickelle Richards, Blake Jones, Alex Kojo Anderson, Marla Reicks, Mary Cluskey, Carolyn Gunther, Nobuko Kay Hongu, Karina Lora, Scottie Misner, Lillie Monroe-Lord, Glade Topham, Siew Sun Wong, Eunjung Lim

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9 Scopus citations


The purpose of this formative, cross-sectional study was to describe independent eating occasions (iEOs) among a convenience sample of low-income early adolescents (10–13 years, n = 46) in 10 U.S. states, including environmental context, foods selected and reasons for selection, and parental rules about foods consumed. Participants took pictures of all foods consumed over 24 h and participated in semi-structured interviews to describe the context of each eating occasion using the pictures as a guide. Responses based on a total of 304 eating occasions were coded to classify foods based on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) MyPlate food groups and to characterize parental rules and reasons for food selection. Average age was 10.9 ± 1.1 years and 60% were female. Approximately 58% of eating occasions were classified as iEOs with approximately 65% as snacks. Most iEOs took place at home. Foods frequently consumed during iEOs were from the sweets, total fruit, dairy, and whole fruit food categories. Primary parental rules for iEOs focused on avoiding certain foods and not eating too much. Early adolescents selected foods for convenience, taste preferences, and availability. Foods selected during iEOs were based on parent, household and early adolescent factors, which could be addressed to influence overall diet quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number981
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by money appropriated by Congress through the Hatch Act to the Agricultural Experiment Stations of land grant universities for multistate research projects.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Adolescents
  • Diet quality
  • Independent eating occasions
  • Low-income
  • Parents


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