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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 May;16(5):1002-8. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.34. Epub 2008 Feb 28.

Away-from-home food intake and risk for obesity: examining the influence of context.

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  • 1Graduate School of Public Health, Center for Behavioral and Community Health Studies, San Diego State Research Foundation and San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA.



This study examined sociodemographic and cultural determinants of away-from-home food consumption in two contexts and the influence of frequency of away-from-home food consumption on children's dietary intake and parent and child weight status.


Parents of children (N=708) in grades K-2 were recruited from 13 elementary schools in Southern California. Parents were asked through a questionnaire the frequency with which they eat meals away from home and the restaurant they frequented most often. The height and weight of the parents and their children were measured to calculate BMI.


Consuming foods at least once a week from relatives/neighbors/friends (RNF) homes was associated with children's dietary intake and children's risk for obesity. For example, children of parents with weekly or greater RNF food consumption drank more sugar-sweetened beverages. Parents of families who ate at restaurants at least weekly reported that their children consumed more sugar-sweetened beverages, more sweet/savory snacks, and less water compared with families who did not frequent restaurants this often. The type of restaurant visited did not affect diet intake or obesity. More acculturated families exhibited less healthy dietary behaviors than less acculturated families.


Restaurants remain an important setting for preventing child and adult obesity, but other settings outside the home need to be considered in future intervention research. This may especially involve eating in the homes of RNF.

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