Dietary habits between New Zealand adolescent males and females
Background: Dietary habits develop in adolescence, and these can continue into adulthood, as does obesity, increasing the risk of non-communicable disease. The dietary habits of fruit, vegetable, breakfast and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) have varying effects on health; sub-optimal dietary habits are associated with poor diet quality and nutrient intake, increasing the risk of poor health outcomes. There has been no research examining the dietary habits of New Zealand (NZ) adolescents in over a decade. Research is needed so current behaviours can be identified and strategies put in place to help reduce the risk of non-communicable disease in this population.Objective: To assess the specific dietary habits of fruit, vegetable, breakfast and SSB consumption among NZ adolescents, and compare these dietary habits between males and females.Design: An observational cross-sectional study was used to gather data on a total of 266 females (15-18yrs) and 135 males (15-17yrs) from 19 secondary schools around NZ. In total, 241 females and 122 males completed a dietary habits questionnaire, to assess their consumption of fruit, vegetables, breakfast and SSB. A demographic questionnaire was also completed, heights and weights were taken during school visits, and the World Health Organisation growth charts were used to determine BMI Z-scores. Level of deprivation was determined using the New Zealand Deprivation Index (NZ Dep18).Results: Overall a low proportion of males and females are meeting our recommendations (based off the Ministry of Health, Healthy Eating for young people) for fruit, vegetable, breakfast and SSB consumption. All dietary habits assessed in this study were significantly different between males and females. Females were more likely to meet recommendations for fruit and vegetables, while males were more likely to consume breakfast and SSB daily. Healthy weight females were more likely to meet recommendations for fruit, while those from areas of low and moderate deprivation were 6 times more likely to meet recommendations than those from areas of high deprivation. This was not seen in the male sample, where obese males and those from areas of high deprivation were most likely to meet recommendations. There was an inverse relationship observed between vegetable consumption and weight status in the female sample, whereas, a positive relationship was observed for the males. Females from areas of low and moderate deprivation were 4 times more likely to meet vegetable recommendations, compared to females from areas of high deprivation. An inverse relationship between breakfast consumption and NZDep, was observed in both the male and female samples. Obese males and females were also less likely to consume breakfast than adolescents in healthy and overweight categories. Males and females from areas of low deprivation were less likely to consume SSB daily compared to those from areas of moderate and high deprivation. Obese males and females were also more likely to consume SSB daily compared to those in the healthy or overweight categories.Conclusion: Overall, findings of our study suggest the dietary habits of NZ adolescents are sub-optimal, with low proportions of both males and females meeting recommendations for fruit, vegetable, breakfast and SSB consumption. Due to the differences in dietary habits between males and females, and between those of different SES, interventions should be targeted to help improve diet quality and reduce chronic disease risk.
Advisor: Brown, Rachel
Degree Name: Master of Dietetics
Degree Discipline: Human Nutrition
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: adolescent; New Zealand; Dietary Habits; males; females; sugar sweetened beverages; fruit; vegetables; breakfast; MDiet; dietetics
Research Type: Thesis