Poster Topical Area: Nutrition Education and Behavioral Sciences

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 172

P18-004 - Describing Independent Eating Occasions Among Low-Income Adolescents Ages 10-13 in the U.S.: A Multi-State Study

Sunday, Jun 10
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Objectives: As children move into adolescence, food choices made independently may greatly affect dietary intake. Little is known regarding food choices adolescents make when not with parents/caregivers. The objective of this study was to characterize independent eating occasions (IEO) among adolescents with regards to frequency, eating location, activities while eating, and types of food consumed.


Methods: In a formative, cross-sectional study, low-income adolescents ages 10-13 years (n=46) in 10 U.S. states were asked to take pictures of all foods consumed over a 24-hour period followed by semi-structured interviews. Trained interviewers asked participants to describe the context of each eating occasion, using the pictures as a guide.


Results: Sixty percent of participants were female, and average age was 10.9±1.1 years. Most participants identified as Hispanic/Latino (39.1%), non-Hispanic Black (26.1%), or non-Hispanic White (21.7%). Overall, participants reported more IEO (172 occasions) than non-IEO (107 occasions), with an average of 3.8±2.2 IEOs daily. More than half (65.1%) of IEO were classified as "snacks." Most IEOs occurred at home (72.1%), followed by school (18.6%), someone else's house (4.7%), another location (3.5%), and car/bus (1.2%). While 30% of adolescents were not performing any other activities while eating, others were watching TV/surfing the internet (31.8%), hanging out with a friend (15.9%), at an afterschool program (1.2%), studying/reading (0.6%), and doing something else (20.6%). The most frequent foods consumed during IEO were sweet snacks (cakes, cookies) (15.4%), followed by grains (bread, pasta) (13.4%), fruits (8.9%), salty snacks (chips) (8.3%), dairy (milk, cheese) (7.9%), and sugar-sweetened drinks (7.1%).


Conclusions: Adolescents frequently made independent food choices. Many foods consumed during IEO were energy-dense snacks eaten at home that had little nutritional value. Understanding choices made and their context may allow for promotion of healthy eating habits in this age group.




Funding Source: USDA NIFA AES Multistate Research Project W3003

CoAuthors: Rickelle Richards – Brigham Young University; Blake Jones – Purdue University ; Alex Anderson – University of Georgia; Mary Cluskey – Oregon State University; Carolyn Gunther – The Ohio State University; Nobuko Hongu – University of Arizona; Karina Lora – University of Oklahoma ; Scottie Misner – Univesity of Arizona; Lillie Monroe-Lord – University of the District of Columbia; Marla Reicks – University of Minnesota; Glade Topham – Kansas State University; Siew Sun Wong – Oregon State University; Eunjung Lim – University of Hawaii

Jinan Banna

Associate Professor
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Honolulu, Hawaii