Objectives: To assess the relationship between eating food purchased away from home (FAH) and longitudinal change in body mass index (BMI) z-score among girls, and to assess the longitudinal tracking of eating FAH from childhood through adolescence.
Design: Participants kept 7-day dietary records at two points in time. The records included the place and time for all foods consumed. We recorded how often participants ate FAH, calculated the percent of total energy derived from FAH, and classified foods as quick-service food, coffee-shop food, or restaurant food.
Participants: Healthy girls (n=101) between the ages of 8 and 12 y at baseline and 11 and 19 y at follow-up participated in a longitudinal study of growth and development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Statistical analyses: Analysis of variance was used to assess the relationship between change in BMI z-score and both the frequency of eating FAH and energy derived from eating FAH. The participants' baseline BMI z-score was a significant covariate and was controlled for in both models. We used the kappa coefficient to assess FAH tracking from childhood through adolescence.
Results: The frequency of eating quick-service food at baseline was positively associated with change in BMI z-score (F=6.49, P<0.01). Participants who ate quick-service food twice a week or more at baseline had the greatest mean increase in BMI z-score compared to those who ate quick-service food once a week or not at all. Quick-service food eating tracked slightly from childhood through adolescence (k=0.17, P<0.05).
Discussion: Adolescent girls who eat quick-service food twice a week or more are likely to increase their relative BMI over time.