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Can J Public Health. 2005 Jul-Aug;96 Suppl 3:S20-6, S22-9.

Determinants of healthy eating in children and youth.

[Article in English, French]

Author information

  • 1Department of Family and Nutritional Sciences, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.


This review outlines the state of knowledge and research gaps in the area of determinants of healthy eating among children and youth. The article is structured around individual and collective determinants that affect healthy eating in children and youth. We defined healthy eating as "eating practices and behaviours that are consistent with improving, maintaining and/or enhancing health." Relevant databases were searched for papers published between January 1992 and March 2003 that focussed on children or youth and reported at least one factor relevant to healthy eating. Among collective factors, familial factors and the nature of foods available in the physical environment, including at home, schools and in fast-food establishments, stand out as significant influences on healthy eating in children and youth. The media, particularly television, also have an enormous potential influence and can overshadow familial influences. Individual factors identified include knowledge, attitudes and food preferences; only the latter have been identified as a strong determinant of healthy eating in both children and adolescents. The results of the review identified a significant body of literature in the area of determinants of healthy eating in children and youth; however, very little of this research has taken place in Canada. Only a few determinants, such as economic factors and food security, the content of media nutritional messages, and the issue of flavours, neophobia and food preferences, have undergone some examination by Canadian researchers. Research priorities for Canada in the area of determinants of healthy eating and surveillance of eating behaviours are identified.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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