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P13 Associations between the life transitions of early adulthood and changes in fast food intake
  1. EM Winpenny1,
  2. M Winkler2,
  3. J Stochl3,4,
  4. EMF van Sluijs1,
  5. D Neumark-Sztainer2
  1. 1MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  4. 4Department of Kinanthropology, Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic


Background Early adulthood is typically a period of poor diet and rapid weight gain. It is also an age of transition, including changes in social and physical environments which may be associated with changes in health-related behaviours. We examine the association of five life transitions (leaving the family home, leaving full-time education, beginning full-time employment, beginning cohabitation, and becoming a parent) with change in fast food intake.

Methods We used four waves of data from adolescence (mean age 15) through early adulthood (to mean age 31) from the longitudinal, population-based Project EAT study (Minnesota, US). The underlying trajectory of fast food intake was modelled as a latent growth curve. Additional latent intercepts at waves 2, 3 and 4 were included, regressed on the 5 life transitions, to allow for additional effects of experiencing life transitions between waves. All life transitions were included in a single model allowing adjustment for other transitions and the underlying growth curve.

Results Fast food was consumed 1.69 times/week (SE 0.03) at age 15, and followed a negative quadratic trajectory through early adulthood. Beginning full-time employment and becoming a parent were associated with increases in fast food intake of 0.16 times/week (SE 0.007) and 0.16 times/week (SE 0.004) respectively. Leaving the family home and beginning cohabitation were associated with decreases in fast food intake of -0.18 times/week (SE 0.003) and -0.16 times/week (SE 0.008) respectively. Leaving full-time education was not associated with any change in fast food intake (-0.01 times/week (SE 0.89)).

Conclusion Social transitions in early adulthood contribute to changes in fast food consumption, which may affect dietary intake and long-term health. These findings suggest a further focus on the life transitions of beginning employment and becoming a parent for public health policies and intervention.

  • diet
  • transitions
  • early adulthood

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