Associations between aspects of friendship networks and dietary behavior in youth: findings from a systematized review
Sawka et al (2015) produces this systematic review examining the impact of friendship networks (including factors such as friends’ dietary behavior, popularity) on an individual’s dietary behavior among children and adolescents. To be eligible studies had to include participants aged between 6 and 18, to measure the subject’s friendship network as well as habitual dietary behavior for both the participant and their friend(s). From 9041 articles retrieved from 6 online scientific databases, a total of seven studies matched the criteria and were included in this review. A connection was found between an individual’s unhealthy food consumption with friends’ unhealthy dietary intake, especially stronger for boys compared with girls. Furthermore an individual’s total energy intake was correlated to that of their best friends’. Even an individual’s unhealthy diet consumption tended to become similar to friends’ poor food choice over time. Similarities between friends’ healthy food consumption and intake of breakfast were inconclusive. But this review highlights the influence of friends on unhealthy diet decisions among adolescents and provides us with a greater insight into adolescent dietary behavior. If healthier diet behaviors could be instilled into these adolescent friendship groups, unhealthy damaging eating habits could be possibly cut down, which could improve weight status among the youth population.