Social support influences on eating awareness in children and adolescents: the mediating effect of self-regulatory strategies

Margarida Gaspar de Matos, Antonio L Palmeira, Tania Gaspar, John B F De Wit, Aleksandra Luszczynska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The impact of the social environment on healthy eating awareness results from complex interactions among physical, economic, cultural, interpersonal and individual characteristics. This study investigated the impact of social support and social influence on healthy eating awareness, controlling for socio-economic status, gender and age. Additionally, the mediating effect of self-regulation strategies was examined. A total of 2764 children and adolescents aged 10-17 from four European countries completed self-report measures on healthy eating awareness, social influence and the use of self-regulation strategies. Healthy eating awareness and the use of self-regulation strategies were more likely to occur among younger participants. An interaction between gender and age was related to the use of some self-regulation strategies; compared to girls, boys decreased the use of self-regulation strategies more from pre-adolescence to adolescence. Peer social influence was associated with more unhealthy eating in older participants. Results suggest a need to promote self-regulatory competences among young people in order to assist them with regulating their eating behaviours, especially in the presence of peers. Both school-based interventions and family-based interventions, focusing on self-regulation cognitions and social (peer) influence, could help children and adolescents to use self-regulatory strategies which are essential to eat healthier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-48
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Adolescent
  • Awareness
  • Child
  • Eating
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Self Report
  • Social Class
  • Social Control, Informal
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • eating awareness
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • self-regulation
  • social influence
  • socio economic status


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