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Individual and Environmental Influences on Adolescent Eating Behaviors

      Abstract

      Food choices of adolescents are not consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Food intakes tend to be low in fruits, vegetables, and calcium-rich foods and high in fat. Skipping meals is also a concern among adolescents, especially girls. Factors influencing eating behaviors of adolescents need to be better understood to develop effective nutrition interventions to change eating behaviors. This article presents a conceptual model based on social cognitive theory and an ecological perspective for understanding factors that influence adolescent eating behaviors and food choices. In this model, adolescent eating behavior is conceptualized as a function of individual and environmental influences. Four levels of influence are described: individual or intrapersonal influences (eg, psychosocial, biological); social environmental or interpersonal (eg, family and peers); physical environmental or community settings (eg, schools, fast food outlets, convenience stores); and macrosystem or societal (eg, mass media, marketing and advertising, social and cultural norms).
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