Change in diet in the period from adolescence to early adulthood: a systematic scoping review of longitudinal studies

25 Jul 2017

Late adolescence to early adulthood is a period of lifestyle change and personal development which may influence dietary behaviour. Understanding dietary trajectories across this age range may help in targeting interventions appropriately. This scoping review aimed to assess how longitudinal change in diet is conceptualised and measured between the ages of 13 to 30.We searched Medline, SCOPUS, Embase, PsycInfo (EBSCO), ASSIA, Sportdiscus, and Web of Science Core Collection (January 2016) using search terms combining diet outcomes, longitudinal methods and indicators of adolescent or young adult age. Titles and abstracts were screened and data extracted following published guidelines for scoping reviews. Data were analysed to summarize key data on each study and map availability of longitudinal data on macronutrients and food groups by age of study participants.We identified 98 papers reporting on 40 studies. Longitudinal dietary data were available on intake of energy, key macronutrients and several food groups, but this data had significant gaps and limitations. Most studies provided only two or three waves of data within the age range of interest and few studies reported data collected beyond the early twenties. A range of dietary assessment methods were used, with greater use of less comprehensive dietary assessment methods among studies reporting food group intakes.Despite limited availability of longitudinal data to aid understanding of dietary trajectories across this age range, this scoping review identified areas with scope for further evidence synthesis. We identified a paucity of longitudinal data continuing into the mid and late twenties, variability in (quality of) dietary assessment methods, and a large variety of macronutrients and food groups studied. Advances in dietary assessment methodologies as well as increased use of social media may facilitate new data collection to further understanding of changing diet across this life stage.