Attitudes to food differ between adolescent dieters and non-dieters from Otago, New Zealand, but overall food intake does not.
ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE: There is increasing pressure for adolescents to be thin and this may not always be acted upon in healthy ways; for example, certain foods or food groups may be restricted or meals skipped. As foods are not eaten in isolation it is useful to examine dietary patterns and associated psychosocial factors to better understand eating behaviour. The aim of the present study was to identify correlates of 'dieting' in adolescents from Otago, New Zealand. DESIGN: A web-based survey was conducted in 2009, collecting information on food consumption and factors potentially associated with food consumption. Principal components analysis was used to investigate dietary patterns. Correlates were examined in 1329 students using multiple logistic regression analysis. SETTING: Nineteen secondary schools in the province of Otago, New Zealand. SUBJECTS: Students from school years 9 and 10 (mean age 14·1 (sd 0·7) years). RESULTS: There was no relationship between dieting and dietary patterns. Those not dieting were 17 % (95 % CI 7, 26 %) more likely to eat lunch and 22 % (95 % CI 3, 37 %) more likely to eat an evening meal on one more weekday than those who were dieting. Those who reported dieting were more likely to report healthiness (OR = 2·18, 95 % CI 1·11, 4·26) as an important factor when choosing food and that eating fruit and vegetables makes you better looking. No sex by dieting interaction was found. CONCLUSIONS: In this cohort, while there was no difference in actual food consumption between dieters and non-dieters, there were significant differences in attitudes to food.