Young adults need to cultivate healthy eating habits

January 7th, 2009 - 5:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 7 (IANS) As adolescents grow into young adults, time constraints imposed by school or work can begin to affect their eating habits in an unhealthy way. In a study, researchers observed that while young adults enjoy and value time spent eating with others, 35 percent of males and 42 percent of females admitted lacking time to sit down and eat a meal.

They further noted that “eating on the run” was related to higher consumption of unhealthy items like fast foods and lower consumption of many healthful foods.

By surveying 1,687 young adults between 18 and 25, who had previously participated in the Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) study while in high school, investigators from the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota assessed both eating behaviours and dietary balance.

In particular, participants were asked whether they enjoyed eating with friends or family in social settings, whether eating regular meals was important and whether they felt they had to eat on the run due to time pressures.

Regarding dietary balance, they were asked about their past year intake of fruit, vegetables, dark-green and orange vegetables, whole grains and soft drinks, as well as their consumption of fast food in the past week.

The results suggest that perceived time constraints may be a common barrier to sitting down for meals. Social eating was associated with greater intake of several healthful foods (e.g., vegetables) and with higher intakes of calcium and fibre among males, said a Minnesota release.

Conversely, “eating on the run” was associated with higher intakes of soft drinks, fast food and fat, and with lower intake of several healthful foods among females.

These findings were published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

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