Exploring predictors of eating behaviour among adolescents by gender and socio-economic status

Nanna Lien, David R. Jacobs, Knut Inge Klepp

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112 Scopus citations


Objective: Guided by theory, this study explored cross-sectional differences in factors influencing adolescent eating behaviour including gender and socio-economic status (SES), and subsequently tested the longitudinal predictive power of the models. Design/setting/subjects: Data were collected by questionnaires in a longitudinal study of adolescents (age 13 years at baseline) and their parents from Hordaland County, Norway. Association of personal and environmental variables (family, friends, school/society) with the consumption of fruit and vegetables (FV) and selected sources of fat and of sugar were assessed at age 15 (n = 613). The final cross-sectional models were subsequently employed in groups stratified by gender/SES and to predict consumption at age 21 (n = 380). Results: The model explained more of the variation in the sugar score (21%) and the FV score (13.5%) than in the fat score (5%). SES was associated with both the sugar and FV scores. The strongest associations with the sugar score and FV were for antisocial behaviour and evaluation of own diet, respectively. The former association was significant in all gender/SES groups, whereas the latter association was only significant in the low SES groups. For all three types of food, the strongest significant predictors in the longitudinal models were frequency of consumption at age 15. Conclusion: The model's ability to explain variation in eating behaviours differed by food type, and possibly by gender/SES, but previous eating behaviour was an important predictor for all three foods. Prospective studies should carefully operationalise theoretical constructs when further investigating the influences of and interrelationships between these factors and gender/SES on the development of eating behaviours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-681
Number of pages11
JournalPublic health nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Norwegian Research Council. The NLHB Study was initiated and is conducted by the Research Centre on Health Promotion, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, and is currently co-ordinated by Dr Bente Wold.


  • Adolescents
  • Eating behaviour
  • Gender
  • Longitudinal
  • Socio-economic status
  • Theory


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