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To describe food habits and associated sociodemographic factors.
Cross-sectional survey in 2005.
Ninety-six school classes in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron governorates, Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Grade 8 and 9 students aged 13–15 years (n 2952).
Self-administered student and parent questionnaires.
High standard of living (STL) index and residence in Ramallah were positively associated with intake of animal foods, Western-style foods, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, sweets and salty snacks. Only 26·1 % of the students ate three main meals daily; 26·2 % of the boys and 51·0 % of the girls had breakfast one to two times per week or less often (P < 0·001). Only one-quarter of students drank milk daily (32·9 % of boys and 18·3 % of girls, P < 0·001). The majority of students, boys and girls in similar proportions, consumed vegetables daily (72·8 % v. 73·8 %, respectively). Daily fruit consumption was also equally common among boys and girls (58·9 % v. 55·2 %, respectively), but with clear differences by STL, region and parents’ education. Daily intake of sweets and salty snacks was common among girls, and daily intake of soft drinks was common among boys.
Irregular meal patterns were common among Palestinian adolescents. High STL and residence in Ramallah were associated with frequent intake of foods high in sugar and fat, but also with frequent intake of fruits and vegetables. Effective interventions are needed to establish healthy dietary habits.
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