Adolescent television viewing and unhealthy snack food consumption: the mediating role of home availability of unhealthy snack foods

Objective: To examine whether home availability of energy-dense snack foods mediates the association between television viewing (TV) and energy-dense snack consumption among adolescents. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Secondary schools in Victoria, Australia. Subjects: Adolescents (n=2984) from Years 7 and 9 of secondary school completed a web- based survey, between September 2004 and July 2005, assessing their energy-dense snack food consumption, school day and weekend day TV viewing and home availability of energy-dense snack foods. Results: School day and weekend day TV viewing were positively associated with energy-dense snack consumption among adolescent boys (β=0.003, p<0.001) and girls (β=0.03, p<0.001). Furthermore, TV viewing (school and weekend day) were positively associated with home availability of energy-dense snack foods among adolescent boys and girls and home availability of energy-dense snack foods was positively associated with energy-dense snack food consumption among boys (β=0.26, p<0.001) and girls (β=0.28, p<0.001). Home availability partly mediated the association between TV viewing and energy-dense snack consumption. Conclusions: The results of the present study suggest that TV viewing has a significant role to play in adolescent unhealthy eating behaviours. Future research should assess the efficacy of methods to reduce adolescent energy-dense snack food consumption by targeting parents to reduce home availability of energy-dense foods, and on reducing TV viewing behaviours of adolescents.