Pocket-money is a known key actor of diet quality, and weight status among minors. With today’s youth adhering to “western” dietary prototypes, understanding the effect of daily allowance on weight status and food choices is important for the future health of our children.
More than a century ago, a pediatrician, doctor Wilkins, was the first to acknowledge the effect of pocket-money on children’s food choices. By inference, today we understand that adolescent buyer capacity consists of a known, but underestimated effector of adiposity and weight status.
The amount of pocket-money received affects adolescent food choices by reducing diet quality, increasing the consumption of unhealthy foods, including sugar, soft drinks and out-of-home snacks, and subsequently, the prevalence of becoming overweight.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers evaluated interrelationships between pocket-money, Mediterranean diet adherence and weight status among adolescents.
Pocket-money, Mediterranean diet adherence and obesity
Overall, a negative relationship was observed between pocket money and obesity, however, according to Theodore Dardavessis, the author of the study, “We should consider that among adolescents, the amount of pocket-money tends to increase with age, while, on the other hand, obesity rates are declining during late adolescence as a result of greater adult height achievement”.
Thus, when allowance was categorized in distinct tiers, the results revealed that increased allowance was associated with increased fast-food consumption and breakfast skipping. Lower allowance on the other hand, was associated with reduced obesity rates and concurrently, lower diet quality compared to average pocket money.
Mediterranean diet still hailed as healthiest
“As far as Mediterranean diet is concerned, what we already know is that increased Mediterranean diet adherence is associated with a lower risk of overweight, and this was also verified in our study,” stated professor Theodore Dardavessis.
“The insights from this study can be used to develop food pricing policies for clamping down the obesity epidemic,” he concluded.
Could taxing unhealthy foods make a difference?
In a nutshell, stakeholders, scientists and parents need to pay more attention on the effects that pocket money entails on the diet and weight status of adolescents, both at the primary and secondary prevention level. Proactive fiscal interventions could be based both at the micro- and macro-economic level, including the reduction of daily allowance for the first, or taxing of unhealthy foods for the latter.
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Grammatikopoulou MG, Gkiouras K, Daskalou E, Apostolidou E, Theodoridis X, Stylianou C, Galli-Tsinopoulou A, Tsigga M, Dardavessis T, Chourdakis M: Growth, Mediterranean diet and buyer capacity of adolescents in Greece. 1.06.2018