Sociodemographic Differences in Selected Eating Practices among Alternative High School Students

Chrisa Arcan, Martha Y Kubik, Jayne A. Fulkerson, Mary T Story

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Students attending alternative high schools are an at-risk group of youth for poor health behaviors and obesity. However, little is known about their dietary practices. Objective: To examine associations between sex, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status and selected dietary practices, including consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, high-fat foods, and fruits and vegetables and fast-food restaurant use, among students attending alternative high schools. Design: Population-based, cross-sectional study. Subjects/setting: A convenience sample of adolescents (n=145; 52% men; 63% aged <18 years; and 39% white, 32% African American, and 29% other/multiracial) attending six alternative high schools in the St Paul/Minneapolis, MN, metropolitan area completed a survey. Students were participants in the Team COOL (Controlling Overweight and Obesity for Life) pilot study, a group randomized obesity prevention trial. Statistical analyses performed: Descriptive statistics were used to describe dietary practices. Mixed model multivariate analyses were used to assess differences in dietary practices by sex, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Results: Regular soda was consumed at least five to six times per week by more than half of students. One half of students reported eating or drinking something from a fast-food restaurant at least three to four times a week. African-American students had the highest consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (P=0.025), high-fat foods (P=0.002), and highest frequency of fast-food restaurant use (P<0.025). Mean fruit/vegetable intake was 3.6 servings/day; there were no sociodemographic differences in fruit/vegetable consumption. Higher socioeconomic status was associated with a higher consumption of regular soda (P=0.027). Conclusions: Racial/ethnic and sex differences in the consumption of regular soda, high-fat foods, and fast-food restaurant use among alternative high school students underscores the importance of implementing health promotion programs in alternative high schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-829
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases no. R21DK072948. It was also supported in part by the Adolescent Health Protection Program grant no. T01-DP000112 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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