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Examining Children's Eating Behaviors and their Social Determinants In Ticino Switzerland



Suggs L. S.


Della Bella S.


External participants

Marques-Vidal Pedro

(Third-party beneficiary)


Dietary habits are linked to overweight, obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, as well as mental health, quality of life, and a variety of social issues. Childhood eating habits establish life long eating habits and overweight and obese children are more likely to retain their condition and associated consequences through adulthood. A variety of social, environmental and interpersonal factors have been examined as potential determinants of eating behaviors. However, there is little information regarding the characteristics and social determinants of dietary intake among Swiss children. The research uses existing data to examine eating behaviors and nutrition patterns of children in Ticino Switzerland and focuses on the influence of social settings on eating habits. It offers a detailed examination of children’s eating behaviors and their social setting that contributes to a sharper focus on the underlying mechanisms of influence. The study will be the first to examine the eating habits of children ages 6-12 in Ticino. Further, it is the only study to date to measure changes to eating behaviors and social setting influence post a family based e-health intervention. The child-parent data provide information about children’s food consumption habits as well as demographic and social cognitive data for both parents and children. The length of time covered by the children’s food and activity diaries is another strength as past research typically relies on 2 or 3 days of eating, whereas the behavioral data for this study spans 7 consecutive days. Further, most studies of eating behaviors examine weight outcomes, (such as BMI or in fewer examples, physical measures of adiposity) and use samples of overweight and obese children. This study focuses on food consumption choices and compliance with dietary recommendations using a large, representative sample with all weight and income categories included. Thus, it also allows for the examination of different eating habits by healthy weight children, as well as overweight, obese and underweight children. The research has scientific and practical implications for the development of policy and sustainable strategies for children’s eating habits in Switzerland and other countries. We will describe preadolescent eating behaviors, identifying specific social settings and their association with eating behaviors and SSN guidelines. The detailed description of children’s eating habits will demonstrate the type of food that children consume in different social settings. These results will be especially salient for policy makers, parents, children, educators, and practitioners by providing important evidence to develop and implement strategies that contribute to healthful food consumption. 

Additional information

Start date
End date
36 Months
Funding sources
Swiss National Science Foundation / Interdisciplinary projects