Indexed on: 25 Jul '06Published on: 25 Jul '06Published in: Health education research
There is increasing interest in the role the environment plays in shaping the dietary behavior of youth, particularly in the context of obesity prevention. An overview of environmental factors associated with obesity-related dietary behaviors among youth is needed to inform the development of interventions. A systematic review of observational studies on environmental correlates of energy, fat, fruit/vegetable, snack/fast food and soft drink intakes in children (4-12 years) and adolescents (13-18 years) was conducted. The results were summarized using the analysis grid for environments linked to obesity. The 58 papers reviewed mostly focused on sociocultural and economical-environmental factors at the household level. The most consistent associations were found between parental intake and children's fat, fruit/vegetable intakes, parent and sibling intake with adolescent's energy and fat intakes and parental education with adolescent's fruit/vegetable intake. A less consistent but positive association was found for availability and accessibility on children's fruit/vegetable intake. Environmental factors are predominantly studied at the household level and focus on sociocultural and economic aspects. Most consistent associations were found for parental influences (parental intake and education). More studies examining environmental factors using longitudinal study designs and validated measures are needed for solid evidence to inform interventions.