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Public Health Nutr. 2010 Dec;13(12):2068-75. doi: 10.1017/S1368980010000947. Epub 2010 May 4.

Who eats healthily? A population-based study among young Swiss residents.

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Research Group on Adolescent Health, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne, Bugnon 17, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland.



To assess whether Swiss residents aged 15-24 years follow current nutritional guidelines and whether differences exist according to gender and weight status.


Cross-sectional national survey.




The 1786 participants (48·4 % women) were divided into overweight, normal weight and underweight. We used traditional BMI cut-offs for people ≥18 years of age (underweight = BMI < 18·5 kg/m2, normal weight = BMI ≥ 18·5 kg/m2 and <25 kg/m2, overweight = BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) and age- and gender-appropriate tables for people aged <18 years, with BMI calculated from self-reported weight and height. We performed bivariate analyses by gender, and then bivariate and multivariate analyses comparing overweight to normal weight people (excluding underweight, n 129, 71·6 % women) regarding adherence to recommendations for fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy products; physical activity; attitude towards body weight; depression, smoking and alcohol consumption.


Overall, adherence to nutritional guidelines was low, particularly for vegetables and dairy products. Women had a higher adherence than men except for fish and dairy products. In the multivariate analyses, overweight women had a lower vegetable intake, were less satisfied with body weight and had more often been on a diet, whereas overweight men were less satisfied with body weight and wanted to lose weight more often than their normal weight peers. There were no significant differences for physical activity.


Overweight prevention programmes should target youth specifically by gender and promote an appropriate self-perception. Overweight women should be encouraged to eat more vegetables and men to be more sensitised on healthy food. Further research is needed to assess how to make nutritional guidelines more adaptable to young people's daily life.

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