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Influence of Friendship Networks on Youth Dietary Behaviours

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

Results from “Associations between aspects of friendship networks and dietary

Behaviour in youth: Findings from a systematized review “.

Sawka, K. J., McCormack, G. R., Nettel-Aguirre, A., & Swanson, K.


Intake influencers

C Consumption of healthy and nutritious foods is essential in promoting healthy development for children and adolescents. Social networks among youth, such as caregivers and friends, can strongly influence the quality of a child or adolescent’s diet (1). While caregivers have the strongest impact on behaviours during early childhood, friendships tend to have a stronger influence during adolescence as youth begin to spend less time at home (2). The eating habits of an adolescent’s social network have been observed to influence their health-related behaviours through role-modelling and social norms (3). A literature review was recently completed to understand how youth friendship networks impact dietary behaviours.

Friendships or friend’s chips?

The review showed that an individual’s consumption of unhealthy foods, such as fast foods, snack foods, and low nutrient foods, was associated with their friend’s consumption of unhealthy foods. Boys were found to be more likely to be impacted by their friend’s dietary habits than girls. Popularity was also associated with the consumption of unhealthy foods. Children perceived to be more popular were found to consume an average amount of unhealthy foods, as opposed to a very high or very low amount of these foods. Evidence from the review also demonstrated that total caloric intake between an individual and their closest friends was similar. The results of this review indicate that a child’s friendship networks can influence their consumption of unhealthy foods and overall dietary behaviours

Suggested citation: Sawka, K. J., Mccormack, G. R., Nettel-Aguirre, A., & Swanson, K. (2015). Associations between aspects of friendship networks and dietary behavior in youth: Findings from a systematized review. Eating Behaviors, 18, 7–15. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.03.002

Written by: Emma Chong, BKin. Posted November 15, 2019.



1. Rasmussen, M., Krølner, R., Klepp, K.I., Lytle, L., Brug, J.,Bere, E., et al. (2006). Determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption among children and adolescents: A review of the literature. Part I: quantitative studies. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 3.

2. Mackey, E.R., & La Greca, A.M. (2007). Adolescents' eating, exercise, and weight control behaviors: Does peer crowd affiliation play a role? Journal of Pediatric Psychology,32, 13–23.

3. Patrick, H., & Nicklas, T.A. (2005). A review of family and social determinants of children's eating patterns and diet quality. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 24, 83–92.


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