Perceived Social Support From Friends and Parents for Eating Behavior and Diet Quality Among Low-Income, Urban, Minority Youth

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Evidence of associations between social support and dietary intake among adolescents is mixed. This study examines relationships between social support for healthy and unhealthy eating from friends and parents, and associations with diet quality.


Cross-sectional analysis of survey data.


Baltimore, MD.


296 youth aged 9–15 years, 53% female, 91% African American, participating in the B'More Healthy Communities for Kids study.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Primary dependent variable: diet quality measured using Healthy Eating Index 2010 (HEI) overall score, calculated from the Block Kids Food Frequency Questionnaire. Independent variables: Social support from parents and friends for healthy eating (4 questions analyzed as a scale) and unhealthy eating (3 questions analyzed individually), age, gender, race, and household income, reported via questionnaire.


Adjusted multiple linear regressions (α, P < .05).


Friend and parent support for healthy eating did not have statistically significant relationships with overall HEI scores. Youth who reported their parents offering high-fat foods or sweets more frequently had lower overall HEI scores (β = –1.65; SE = 0.52; 95% confidence interval, –2.66 to –0.63).

Conclusions and Implications:

These results are novel and demonstrate the need for additional studies examining support for unhealthy eating. These preliminary findings may be relevant to researchers as they develop family-based nutrition interventions.

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