Eating habits and factors affecting food choice of adolescents living in rural areas
OBJECTIVE: To establish factors that affect food choices among adolescents living in rural areas and to identify their food choices. DESIGN: A random sample of adolescents living in a Greek rural area (n=382) aged 12-18 years were individually interviewed. Food consumption was assessed by a semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire and adherence to the Mediterranean diet was evaluated using the KIDMED questionnaire. Information was collected regarding self-perceived body size, dieting, dietary knowledge, parental control, meal and snack frequency, eating out of home, eating takeaways and precooked meals, eating from the school canteen. RESULTS: Body image concerns, dieting, education about food, parental control, maternal education level and eating with family and peers are factors that were found to affect food choices in this group of Greek adolescents. The adherence to the Mediterranean diet was low (KIDMED index was 4.5 +/- 2.7). Regular family meals at home were frequent in this group and 99% of the adolescents ate lunch daily at home. Eating out with peers and eating from the school canteen was related with higher consumption of 'junk type of food'. Girls and younger adolescents and those whose mothers had a higher education level seem to make healthier choices. CONCLUSIONS: Factors such as personal issues, family and peer pressure significantly affect food choices among adolescents living in a Greek rural area and highlight the importance of implementing multilevel strategies to promote healthy eating among adolescents.