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Diet quality is influenced by socio-economic and geographical factors. The present study sought to assess whether adolescents' diet quality is affected by their parents' socio-economic status and whether the relationship between these factors is similar in northern and southern Europe. Data collected in the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA) study in eight European countries were analysed. Dietary intake data were recorded via repeated 24 h recalls (using specifically developed HELENA Dietary Intake Assessment Tool software) and converted into an adolescent-specific Diet Quality Index (DQI-AM). Socio-economic status was estimated through parental educational level (Par-Educ-Lev) and parental occupation level (Par-Occ-Lev) as reported by the adolescents in a specific questionnaire. The DQI-AM data were then analysed as a function of Par-Educ-Lev and Par-Occ-Lev in northern European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden) and southern European countries (Greece, Italy and Spain). We studied a total of 1768 adolescents (age 14·7 (sd 1·3) years; percentage of girls: 52·8 %; 1135 and 633 subjects from northern and southern Europe, respectively). On average, the DQI-AM score was higher in southern Europe than in northern Europe (69·1 (sd 0·1) v. 60·4 (sd 2·8), respectively; P< 0·001; Δ = 12·6 %). The DQI was positively correlated with both paternal and maternal Par-Educ-Lev. However, this association was more pronounced in northern Europe than in southern Europe (P interaction = 0·004 for the mother and 0·06 for the father). The DQI was also positively correlated with Par-Occ-Lev (all P trends < 0·01), but this correlation was independent of the geographical area (P interaction = 0·51 for the mother and 0·50 for the father). In conclusion, Par-Educ-Lev and Par-Occ-Lev are associated with diet quality in adolescents in Europe. However, this association differs between northern Europe and southern Europe.
Evidence has grown supporting the role for short sleep duration as an independent risk factor for weight gain and obesity. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between sleep duration and dietary quality in European adolescents. The sample consisted of 1522 adolescents (aged 12·5–17·5 years) participating in the European multi-centre cross-sectional ‘Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence’ study. Sleep duration was estimated by a self-reported questionnaire. Dietary intake was assessed by two 24 h recalls. The Diet Quality Index for Adolescents with Meal index (DQI-AM) was used to calculate overall dietary quality, considering the components dietary equilibrium, dietary diversity, dietary quality and a meal index. An average sleep duration of ≥ 9 h was classified as optimal, between 8 and 9 h as borderline insufficient and < 8 h as insufficient. Sleep duration and the DQI-AM score were positively associated (β = 0·027, r 0·130, P< 0·001). Adolescents with insufficient (62·05 (sd 14·18)) and borderline insufficient sleep (64·25 (sd 12·87)) scored lower on the DQI-AM than adolescents with an optimal sleep duration (64·57 (sd 12·39)) (P< 0·001; P= 0·018). The present study demonstrated in European adolescents that short sleep duration was associated with a lower dietary quality. This supports the hypothesis that the health consequences of insufficient sleep may be mediated by the relationship of insufficient sleep to poor dietary quality.
Food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) aim to address the nutritional requirements at population level in order to prevent diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle. Diet quality indices can be used to assess the compliance with these FBDG. The present study aimed to investigate whether the newly developed Diet Quality Index for Adolescents (DQI-A) is a good surrogate measure for adherence to FBDG, and whether adherence to these FBDG effectively leads to better nutrient intakes and nutritional biomarkers in adolescents. Participants included 1804 European adolescents who were recruited in the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA) Study. Dietary intake was assessed by two, non-consecutive 24 h recalls. A DQI-A score, considering the components' dietary quality, diversity and equilibrium, was calculated. Associations between the DQI-A and food and nutrient intakes and blood concentration biomarkers were investigated using multilevel regression analysis corrected for centre, age and sex. DQI-A scores were associated with food intake in the expected direction: positive associations with nutrient-dense food items, such as fruits and vegetables, and inverse associations with energy-dense and low-nutritious foods. On the nutrient level, the DQI-A was positively related to the intake of water, fibre and most minerals and vitamins. No association was found between the DQI-A and total fat intake. Furthermore, a positive association was observed with 25-hydroxyvitamin D, holo-transcobalamin and n-3 fatty acid serum levels. The present study has shown good validity of the DQI-A by confirming the expected associations with food and nutrient intakes and some biomarkers in blood.
Dietary fatty acids (FA) play a role in several (patho)physiological processes at any age, and different FA have different effects on lipid status and health outcome. The present study aims to describe the FA intake and its main food sources in a population of healthy European adolescents and to assess the variation in intake as a function of non-dietary factors. FA intake was assessed with 24 h recall interviews in 1804 adolescents aged 12·5–17·5 years. Usual intakes were calculated using the multiple source method. Multilevel analyses, adjusting for study centre, were used to investigate the influence of non-dietary factors. The mean total fat intake was 33·3 (sd 1·2) % of total energy intake (%E). The mean SFA intake was 13·8 (sd 1·2) %E, with 99·8 % of the population exceeding the recommendations. SFA was mainly delivered by meat and cake, pies and biscuits. In most adolescents, the PUFA intake was too low, and 35·5 % of the population did not achieve the minimum recommended intake for α-linolenic acid (ALA). The main determinants of FA intake in the present study population were age and sex, as well as physical activity in the male subgroup. No contributions of body composition, socio-economic status or sexual maturation to the variance in FA intake were observed. In conclusion, the most important public health concerns regarding FA intake in this adolescent population were the low intake of ALA and the high intake of SFA, mainly seen in the younger-aged boys. In this group the major contributor to SFA was meat.
To describe breakfast habits at food group level in European adolescents and to investigate the associations between these habits and sociodemographic factors.
Secondary schools from nine European cities participating in the HELENA (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) Study. Breakfast habits were assessed twice using a computer-based 24 h dietary recall. Adolescents who consumed breakfast on at least one recall day were classified as ‘breakfast consumers’ and adolescents who did not have anything for breakfast on either of the two recall days were considered ‘breakfast skippers’. A ‘breakfast quality index’ to describe breakfast quality was created based on the consumption or non-consumption of cereals/cereal products, dairy products and fruits/vegetables. The sociodemographic factors studied were sex, age, region of Europe, maternal and paternal education, family structure and family affluence.
Adolescents (n 2672, 53 % girls) aged 12–17 years.
The majority of the adolescents reported a breakfast that scored poorly on the breakfast quality index. Older adolescents, adolescents from the southern part of Europe and adolescents from families with low socio-economic status were more likely to consume a low-quality breakfast.
The study highlights the need to promote the consumption of a high-quality breakfast among adolescents, particularly in older adolescents, adolescents from southern Europe and adolescents from families with low socio-economic status, in order to improve public health.
As stress is hypothesised to influence dietary behaviour, the relationship between perceived stress and diet quality in European adolescents was investigated. Within the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence study, adolescents (n 704, aged 12–17 years) from schools in five European cities (Ghent, Stockholm, Zaragoza, Athens and Vienna) completed a 2 d 24 h dietary recall assessment and an Adolescent Stress Questionnaire. Measurements and information were taken on height, weight, pubertal stage, parental education level, the level of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sleep duration. The Diet Quality Index for Adolescents (DQI-A) was calculated from the dietary data, which comprised three components reflecting dietary diversity, quality and equilibrium. Hierarchical linear models were performed to investigate the relationship between the adolescents' level of perceived stress and the DQI-A and its components, adjusting for relevant covariates (age, BMI z-score, pubertal stage and parental education). These models were additionally adjusted for MVPA or sleep duration. In both boys and girls, perceived stress was a significant independent negative predictor for their overall DQI-A. This inverse relationship was observed for all dietary components, except for dietary diversity in boys, and it was unaltered when additionally adjusted for MVPA or sleep duration. The observed inverse relationship between stress and diet quality within these European adolescents supports the hypothesis that stress influences dietary behaviour, thus emphasising the need for preventive stress-coping strategies for adolescents.
Since inadequate food consumption patterns during adolescence are not only linked with the occurrence of obesity in youth but also with the subsequent risk of developing diseases in adulthood, the establishment and maintenance of a healthy diet early in life is of great public health importance. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to describe and evaluate the food consumption of a well-characterized sample of European adolescents against food-based dietary guidelines for the first time.
The HELENA (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) Study is a cross-sectional study, whose main objective was to obtain comparable data on a variety of nutritional and health-related parameters in adolescents aged 12·5–17·5 years.
Ten cities in Europe.
The initial sample consisted of more than 3000 European adolescents. Among these, 1593 adolescents (54 % female) had sufficient and plausible dietary data on energy and food intakes from two 24 h recalls using the HELENA-DIAT software.
Food intake of adolescents in Europe is not optimal compared with the two food-based dietary guidelines, Optimized Mixed Diet and Food Guide Pyramid, examined in this study. Adolescents eat half of the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables and less than two-thirds of the recommended amount of milk (and milk products), but consume much more meat (and meat products), fats and sweets than recommended. However, median total energy intake may be estimated to be nearly in line with the recommendations.
The results urge the need to improve the dietary habits of adolescents in order to maintain health in later life.
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