Factors Associated With Unhealthy Snacks Consumption Among Adolescents in Iran’s Schools

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Health Management and Economics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 School of Public Health, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Community Nutrition, National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute, Faculty of Nutrition Sciences and Food Technology, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 Social Determinants of Health Research Center and Department of Public Health, School of Public Health, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Hamadan, Iran

5 Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department, School of Public Health, Knowledge Utilization Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Well-informed interventions are needed if school-based health promotion is to be effective. Amongother aims, the Iranian Health Promoting School (IHPS) program that was launched in 2011, has an important aimof promoting dietary behaviors of adolescents. The present study, therefore, aimed to investigate the factors affectingunhealthy snacking of adolescents and provide evidence for a more effective IHPS program.
In a cross-sectional study design, 1320 students from 40 schools in Kerman city were selected using aproportional stratified random sampling method. A modified qualitative Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) wasused to gather data about unhealthy snacking behavior. Data about intrapersonal and environmental factors wereobtained using a validated and reliable questionnaire. A mixed-effects negative-binomial regression model was usedto analyze the data.
Taste and sensory perception (prevalence rate ratio [PRR] = 1.18; 95% CI: 1.09-1.27), being a male (PRR = 1.20;95% CI: 1.05-1.38) and lower nutritional knowledge (PRR = 0.96; 95% CI: 0.91-0.99) were associated with higher weeklyunhealthy snaking. Perceived self-efficacy (PRR = 0.95; 95% CI: 0.91-1.00) negatively influenced the frequency ofunhealthy snaking, with this approaching significance (P< .06). In case of environmental factors, high socio-economicstatus (SES) level (PRR = 1.45; 95% CI: 1.26-1.67), single-parent family (PRR = 1.14; 95% CI: 1.01-1.30), more socialnorms pressure (PRR = 1.08; 95% CI: 1.01-1.17), pocket money allowance (PRR = 1.21; 95% CI: 1.09-1.34), easyaccessibility (PRR = 1.06; 95% CI:1.01-1.11), and less perceived parental control (PRR= 0.96; 95% CI: 0.92-0.99) all hada role in higher consumption of unhealthy snacks. Interestingly, larger school size was associated with less unhealthysnacking (PRR = 0.79; 95% CI: 0.68-0.92).
Unhealthy snacking behavior is influenced by individual, socio-cultural and physical-environmentalinfluences, namely by factors relating to poor parenting practices, high SES level, family characteristics, improper socialnorms pressure, and less knowledge and self-efficacy of students. This evidence can be used to inform a more evidencebased IHPS program through focusing on supportive strategies at the home, school, and local community levels.


Main Subjects

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  • Receive Date: 03 July 2016
  • Revise Date: 29 December 2016
  • Accept Date: 18 January 2017
  • First Publish Date: 01 September 2017