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Area deprivation, screen time and consumption of food and drink high in fat salt and sugar (HFSS) in young people: results from a cross-sectional study in the UK

29 Jun 2019


To investigate associations between deprivation in young people and consumption of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), screen time exposure and health knowledge.


An online cross-sectional survey with people aged 11–19 years in the UK, where participants reported consumption behaviours across 13 HFSS and two non-HFSS groups; screen time for commercial television and streaming services; and knowledge of health conditions and their links to obesity.




A total of 3348 young people aged 11–19 years across the UK.

Main outcome measures

The study assessed the consumption behaviours, commercial screen time exposure and the health knowledge of 3348 people aged 11–19 years. Multivariate binary regression analysis, controlling for age and gender, was performed.


Deprivation level was associated with increases in consumption of six of the HFSS products including energy drinks (OR: 2.943, p<0.001) and sugary drinks (OR: 1.938, p<0.001) and a reduction in consumption in the two non-HFSS products included in the study, fruit (OR: 0.668, p=0.004) and vegetables (OR: 0.306, p<0.001). Deprivation was associated with high weekly screen time of both television (OR: 2.477, p<0.001) and streaming (OR: 1.679, p=0.001). Health knowledge was also associated with deprivation. There was lower awareness of the association of obesity and cancer (OR: 0.697, p=0.003), type 2 diabetes (OR: 0.64, p=0.004) and heart disease (OR: 0.519, p<0.001) in the most deprived.


Young people from the more deprived areas of the UK were more likely to consume a range of HFSS products, report increased exposure to HFSS advertising and have a poorer awareness of health conditions associated with overweight and obesity. The findings suggest that population-level measures addressing childhood obesity should account for consumption patterns among different groups of children and young people and the factors that may influence these.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open