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Fast food restaurant use among adolescents: associations with nutrient intake, food choices and behavioral and psychosocial variables


OBJECTIVE: To examine demographic, behavioral and dietary correlates of frequency of fast food restaurant use in a community-based sample of 4746 adolescent students.

DESIGN: A survey was administered to students in classrooms at 31 secondary schools in a large metropolitan area in Minnesota, United States. Height and body weight were measured.

SUBJECTS: Students in grades 7–12 who were enrolled in participating schools, had parental consent and were in attendance on the day of data collection.

MEASUREMENTS: Frequency of fast food restaurant use (FFFRU), dietary intake, and demographic and behavioral measures were self-reported. Dietary intake was assessed using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Height and body weight were directly measured.

RESULTS: FFFRU was positively associated with intake of total energy, percent energy from fat, daily servings of soft drinks, cheeseburgers, french fries and pizza, and was inversely associated with daily servings of fruit, vegetables and milk. FFFRU was positively associated with student employment, television viewing, home availability of unhealthy foods, and perceived barriers to healthy eating, and was inversely associated with students' own and perceived maternal and peer concerns about healthy eating. FFFRU was not associated with overweight status.

CONCLUSIONS: FFFRU is associated with higher energy and fat intake among adolescents. Interventions to reduce reliance on fast food restaurants may need to address perceived importance of healthy eating as well as time and convenience barriers.

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This study was supported by grant MCJ-270834 (D Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, Principal Investigator) from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Service Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Correspondence to SA French.

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French, S., Story, M., Neumark-Sztainer, D. et al. Fast food restaurant use among adolescents: associations with nutrient intake, food choices and behavioral and psychosocial variables. Int J Obes 25, 1823–1833 (2001).

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  • fast food
  • overweight
  • dietary intake
  • adolescents

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