STUDY OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between parental smoking habits and the nutrient intake and food choice of teenagers aged 16-17 years, allowing for differences in teenage smoking and the social class and regional distribution of the participants. DESIGN: Data were collected from the 1970 longitudinal birth cohort, cross-sectionally at 16-17 years. The smoking habits of teenagers were evaluated from a questionnaire completed by the subjects themselves, and the smoking habits of parents by interview. The nutrient and food intakes of teenagers were quantitatively assessed using a four day unweighed dietary diary. SETTING: The participants were distributed throughout Britain. PARTICIPANTS: A subsample of 1222 males and 1735 females was isolated from respondents to the 1970 birth cohort 16-17 year data collection sweep undertaken in 1986-87. MAIN RESULTS: Parental smoking habits were associated with different dietary patterns among teenagers regardless of whether the teenagers themselves smoked. Dietary differences noted were similar to those observed previously among smokers, with lower intakes of fibre, vitamin C, vitamin E, folates, and magnesium in particular reported among both males and females in households where parents were smokers. These lower intakes were associated with lower intakes of fruit juices, wholemeal bread, and some vegetables. CONCLUSION: Teenagers who lived with parents who smoked had different nutrient and food intakes to those with non-smoking parents, and teenagers exposed to parental smoking appeared to have similar dietary patterns to teenagers who themselves smoked.
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