Sex-and weight-specific changes in the frequency of sweet treat consumption during early adolescence: A longitudinal study

Lommi Sohvi, Engberg Elina, Tuorila Hely, Kolho Kaija-Leena, Viljakainen Heli

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Abstract

The transition from childhood to adolescence is a sensitive period, triggering changes in health-and weight-related behaviours including eating habits which likely vary between girls and boys. We aimed to characterise the changes in the frequency of consumption of select sugary foods and drinks ('sweet treats') among 4237 Finnish girls and boys during a two-year follow-up period. Additionally, we examined four subgroups: children whose weight or waist normalised as well as children whose weight or waist circumference increased during follow-up. A food frequency questionnaire was completed at 11.1 (SD ± 0.9) and again at 13.4 (± 1.1) years of age. A sum variable sweet treat index (STI, range 0-84) captured the weekly consumption frequencies of sweet treats. From baseline to follow-up, the mean STI decreased among girls from 7.1 (95% CI 6.9, 7.3) to 6.0 (5.9, 6.2) (p < 0.001) and boys from 8.5 (8.3, 8.8) to 7.8 (7.6, 7.8) (p < 0.001), although both sexes increased their chocolate/sweets consumption: girls from 1.3 (1.3, 1.4) to 1.6 (1.5, 1.6) (p < 0.001) and boys from 1.4 (1.3, 1.4) to 1.6 (1.6, 1.7) (p < 0.001), and boys increased their soft drink consumption from 1.4 (1.3, 1.4) to 1.5 (1.4, 1.5) (p = 0.020). We found similar decreases in both the weight and waist subgroups. To conclude, the total frequency of consumption of sweet treats decreased during early adolescence. A similar trend across subgroups suggests that the frequency of consumption of sweet treats is unrelated to becoming overweight.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Mar 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Eating behaviour
  • Longitudinal studies
  • Paediatric obesity
  • Sugary products

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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