Abstract: Dietary Intake In Adolescents

Background: Sugar sweetened beverages and "unhealthy" foods are notoriously popular with adolescents. Guided by Pender's Health Promotion Model we examined adolescents' dietary habits for correlations to high BMI rates, lack of sleep, and energy levels. 

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted at three large suburban schools in Northeast Ohio with a convenience sample of 300 students, grades 9 through 12. Variables were measured using the 51-item modified Youth Risk Behavior Survey, focusing on diet, exercise, sleep, and tobacco use.  

Results: There was a significant difference in perception of the importance of activity to health by gender; 72% of males rated it important compared to just 55% of females. There was a significant difference in perception of the importance of a healthy diet by grade; 63% of 11th graders rated it important compared to 92% of seniors. Lastly, those getting less than 6 hours of sleep on school nights were more likely to report needing a sugar-sweetened/caffeinated beverage each day to improve concentration, compared to those who sleep 6 to 7 hours.

Conclusion: How a student views health changes throughout their high school years. This study  was to understand high school teens' use of sugar sweetened beverages and unhealthy foods. We can use these results to educate adolescents about reducing non-nutritious food intake by choosing healthier foods and beverages.