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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 22, 2021

Correlates of food intake and mealtime behaviors among Kuwaiti adolescents

  • Tasleem A. Zafar ORCID logo EMAIL logo and Dalal Alkazemi



Eating meals with the family improves the food choices of adolescents. Studies conducted on Kuwaiti adolescents have reported suboptimal dietary intake; however, it is unclear what meal-related behaviors and family dynamics influence dietary choices in young Kuwaiti adolescents. This study explored the food intake and meal-related behaviors of young adolescents in relation to their mother’s educational level, parental employment, and family size and to identify meal-related behaviors associated with poor dietary choices.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted using a modified and validated version of the International Health Behavior in School Children questionnaire recruiting 774 adolescents aged 14–16 years from all six governorates of Kuwait.


A higher level of the mother’s education was associated with higher odds of eating fruits and breakfast. A stay-at-home mother was associated with higher odds of consuming milk and home-made desserts. Larger family size was associated with higher odds of eating fruits, and a higher frequency of family meals was associated with higher odds of consuming vegetables and whole grain bread. All unhealthy snacks, including sweets, potato chips, french fries, home-made desserts, and sugar-sweetened beverages, were associated with higher odds of watching TV during mealtime.


A higher level of mother’s education level, large family size, and family meals encouraged consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread, milk, and breakfast, but consuming empty calorie snacks is very common. Family involvement in developing healthy meal-related behaviors is imperative for shaping healthy eating habits of adolescents.

Corresponding author: Tasleem A. Zafar, PhD, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, College of Life Sciences, Kuwait University, P.O. Box 5969, Safat 13060, Shadadiya, Kuwait, Phone: +965 24633162, E-mail:

Funding source: Research Sector, Kuwait University

Award Identifier / Grant number: WF01/14


We thank the participating schools and the student participants of this study.

  1. Research funding: This research was funded by the Kuwait University Research Sector by the Project # WF01/14.

  2. Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

  3. Competing interests: Authors state no conflict of interest.

  4. Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individuals included in this study.

  5. Ethical approval: Ethical approval for this study was obtained from the Ministry of Education, Kuwait.


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Received: 2021-01-10
Accepted: 2021-06-27
Published Online: 2021-07-22

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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