Public Health Nutrition


Adolescent television viewing and unhealthy snack food consumption: the mediating role of home availability of unhealthy snack foods

Natalie Pearsona1a2 c1, Stuart JH Biddlea1, Lauren Williamsa3, Anthony Worsleya2, David Crawforda2 and Kylie Balla2

a1 School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK

a2 Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia

a3 Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia


Objective To examine whether home availability of energy-dense snack foods mediates the association between television (TV) viewing and energy-dense snack consumption among adolescents.

Design Cross-sectional.

Setting Secondary schools in Victoria, Australia.

Subjects Adolescents (n 2984) from Years 7 and 9 of secondary school completed a web-based survey, between September 2004 and July 2005, assessing their energy-dense snack food consumption, school-day and weekend-day TV viewing and home availability of energy-dense snack foods.

Results School-day and weekend-day TV viewing were positively associated with energy-dense snack consumption among adolescent boys (β = 0·003, P < 0·001) and girls (β = 0·03, P < 0·001). Furthermore, TV viewing (school day and weekend day) were positively associated with home availability of energy-dense snack foods among adolescent boys and girls and home availability of energy-dense snack foods was positively associated with energy-dense snack food consumption among boys (β = 0·26, P < 0·001) and girls (β = 0·28, P < 0·001). Home availability partly mediated the association between TV viewing and energy-dense snack consumption.

Conclusions The results of the present study suggest that TV viewing has a significant role to play in adolescent unhealthy eating behaviours. Future research should assess the efficacy of methods to reduce adolescent energy-dense snack food consumption by targeting parents to reduce home availability of energy-dense foods and by reducing TV viewing behaviours of adolescents.

(Received May 08 2012)

(Revised September 14 2012)

(Accepted October 29 2012)

(Online publication November 30 2012)


  • Television viewing;
  • Energy-dense snack foods;
  • Mediation;
  • Home availability;
  • Adolescents


c1 Corresponding author: Email