The dietary habits of female adolescents in New Zealand
Background: Adolescence is a complex and vulnerable period of life, where significant physical, developmental and social transformations occur. With these transitions, changes in dietary habits become apparent. The dietary habits of a national sample of female adolescents has not been examined since the ANS 08/09. Given changes in food trends and availability, it is important to investigate current dietary habits. There are dietary habits which have received substantial attention in the literature. Specifically, breakfast consumption has been investigated because the progressive complications of skipping breakfast. Socioeconomic status (SES) and how it relates to adolescents’ dietary habits is also an important variable to analyse, as it has been identified as a predictor of negative health outcomes due to unhealthy dietary habits.Objective: To examine the dietary habits of New Zealand adolescent females aged 15-18 years, using a dietary habit questionnaire specific to the population. In particular, this thesis will focus on breakfast habits in the population group, and whether SES influences the dietary habits of this group.Design: The Survey of Nutrition, Dietary Assessment and Lifestyles project (SuNDiAL) is an observational, cross-sectional survey based on female adolescents aged 15-18 years. Participants were recruited from 8 schools in NZ. In total 145 participants enrolled in the study, with 124 participants completing a self-administered online dietary habits questionnaire administered in REDCap software. Participants also completed an online demographic questionnaire. Height and weight were measured at a school visit.Results: A total of 62% of participants reported consuming fruit two or more servings per day, while 41% reported consuming three or more servings of vegetables per day. Twenty-three percent reported consuming red meat once a day or more. Sugar-sweetened beverages were consumed never or rarely by 60% of participants. Fifty percent reported consuming fast food rarely or monthly. Snacking frequency was varied, with 14.0% reporting to never or rarely consume discretionary snacks, 25.0% reported consumption 1-3 times per month, and 26.0% reported consumption 2-4 times per week. Breakfast was consumed everyday by 42% of participants. Thirty-four percent of Māori participants consumed breakfast ≥5 times a week. Sixty percent of not overweight participants reported consuming breakfast ≥5 times a week, compared to 48% of overweight/obese participants. Thirty-six percent of low decile participants reported never/rarely consuming breakfast, versus 8.9% of high decile participants. Participants from lower decile schools showed a pattern of an apparent increased consumption of fast food and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), and an apparent lower consumption of fruit, vegetables and light/heavy grain bread compared to those in higher deciles.Conclusion: The dietary habits among female adolescents in NZ remain poor in number of areas. In particular, red meat consumption appears to have increased compared to ANS 08/09, and those from lower decile schools seemed to show a pattern of undesirable dietary habits. Breakfast consumption was low in Māori and low decile subgroups. There were some promising results, for example, the frequency of SSBs appears to have decreased compared to the ANS 08/09. Future research in larger, representative samples are needed to confirm these findings.
Advisor: Brown, Rachel
Degree Name: Master of Dietetics
Degree Discipline: Human Nutrition
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; Dietary; Nutrition; Habits; Adolescents; Diet; dietetics; MDiet
Research Type: Thesis