Sociodemographic differences in selected eating practices among alternative high school students

J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 May;109(5):823-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2009.02.001.


Background: Students attending alternative high schools are an at-risk group of youth for poor health behaviors and obesity. However, little is known about their dietary practices.

Objective: To examine associations between sex, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status and selected dietary practices, including consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, high-fat foods, and fruits and vegetables and fast-food restaurant use, among students attending alternative high schools.

Design: Population-based, cross-sectional study.

Subjects/setting: A convenience sample of adolescents (n=145; 52% men; 63% aged <18 years; and 39% white, 32% African American, and 29% other/multiracial) attending six alternative high schools in the St Paul/Minneapolis, MN, metropolitan area completed a survey. Students were participants in the Team COOL (Controlling Overweight and Obesity for Life) pilot study, a group randomized obesity prevention trial.

Statistical analyses performed: Descriptive statistics were used to describe dietary practices. Mixed model multivariate analyses were used to assess differences in dietary practices by sex, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

Results: Regular soda was consumed at least five to six times per week by more than half of students. One half of students reported eating or drinking something from a fast-food restaurant at least three to four times a week. African-American students had the highest consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (P=0.025), high-fat foods (P=0.002), and highest frequency of fast-food restaurant use (P<0.025). Mean fruit/vegetable intake was 3.6 servings/day; there were no sociodemographic differences in fruit/vegetable consumption. Higher socioeconomic status was associated with a higher consumption of regular soda (P=0.027).

Conclusions: Racial/ethnic and sex differences in the consumption of regular soda, high-fat foods, and fast-food restaurant use among alternative high school students underscores the importance of implementing health promotion programs in alternative high schools.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Beverages / statistics & numerical data*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Carbonated Beverages / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet* / economics
  • Diet* / ethnology
  • Diet* / standards
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minnesota
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Pilot Projects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Restaurants / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vegetables
  • White People / statistics & numerical data


  • Dietary Fats