Association between social isolation and eating alone on foods consumed by Chinese adolescents
Black Girls Move


Eating; Adolescent; Social Isolation; Fast Foods


Obesity is increasingly affecting Chinese adolescents due to trends in unhealthy eating, including lower fruit and vegetable consumption and increased consumption of processed foods. A cross-sectional study of adolescents was conducted in Wuhan, China in October 2019 which included measurements of perceived social isolation, eating when anxious or depressed, diet composition, body weight, and height. Social isolation, eating when sad or anxious, and eating alone were significant predictors of processed food and sugar sweetened beverage consumption, although only eating when sad or anxious was a significant predictor of fruit and vegetable consumption. Eating when anxious or depressed did not mediate these relationships. Social isolation predicted consumption of processed foods and sugar sweetened beverages by males, but not by females and only eating home cooked dinner predicted fruit and vegetable consumption by females. Eating when sad or anxious, eating alone, and eating home cooked meals all predicted fruit and vegetable consumption among males. The effects of social isolation, anxiety, and depression could act to increase unhealthy eating through several, mechanisms potentially mediated by chronic stress while eating alone could also act to increase unhealthy eating due to effects of self-efficacy and food availability. The interplay between diet and outside factors including environment, social factors, and personal psychology specific to Chinese adolescents need to be better understood to develop comprehensive interventions for this population.


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