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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mediators of socioeconomic inequalities in dietary behaviours among youth: A systematic review.

  • Author(s): Mekonnen, Teferi
  • Havdal, Hanne Hennig
  • Lien, Nanna
  • O'Halloran, Siobhan Anne
  • Arah, Onyebuchi A
  • Papadopoulou, Eleni
  • Gebremariam, Mekdes Kebede
  • et al.

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Children and adolescents with a lower socioeconomic position have poorer dietary behaviours compared to their counterparts with a higher socioeconomic position. A better understanding of the mechanisms behind such socioeconomic inequalities is vital to identify targets for interventions aimed at tackling these inequalities. This systematic review aimed to summarize existing evidence regarding the mediators of socioeconomic differences in dietary behaviours among youth. A systematic literature search of MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, and Web of Science databases yielded 20 eligible studies. The dietary behaviours included in the reviewed studies were the intake of fruit and vegetables, sugar-sweetened beverages, unhealthy snacks/fast food and breakfast. The consistent mediators of the effects of socioeconomic position on dietary behaviours among youth were: self-efficacy, food preferences and knowledge at the intrapersonal level; and availability and accessibility of food items at home, food rules and parental modelling at the interpersonal level. Few studies including mediators at the organisational, community or policy levels were found. Our review found several modifiable factors at the intrapersonal and interpersonal levels that could be targeted in interventions aimed at combating inequalities in dietary behaviours among youth. Rigorous studies exploring organisational, community and policy level mediators are warranted.

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