Factors influencing food choices of adolescents: Findings from focus- group discussions with adolescents

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Mary Story, Cheryl Perry, Mary Anne Casey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

469 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To assess adolescents' perceptions about factors influencing their food choices and eating behaviors. Design: Data were collected in focus-group discussions. Subjects/setting: The study population included 141 adolescents in 7th and 10th grade from 2 urban schools in St Paul, Minn, who participated in 21 focus groups. Analysis Data were analyzed using qualitative research methodology, specifically, the constant comparative method. Results: Factors perceived as influencing food choices included hunger and food cravings, appeal of food, time considerations of adolescents and parents, convenience of food, food availability, parental influence on eating behaviors (including the culture or religion of the family), benefits of foods (including health), situation-specific factors, mood, body image, habit, cost, media, and vegetarian beliefs. Major barriers to eating more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products and eating fewer high-fat foods included a lack of sense of urgency about personal health in relation to other concerns, and taste preferences for other foods. Suggestions for helping adolescents eat a more healthful diet include making healthful food taste and look better, limiting the availability of unhealthful options, making healthful food more available and convenient, teaching children good eating habits at an early age, and changing social norms to make it 'cool' to eat healthfully. Applications/conclusions The findings suggest that if programs to improve adolescent nutrition are to be effective, they need to address a broad range of factors, in particular environmental factors (eg, the increased availability and promotion of appealing, convenient foods within homes, schools, and restaurants).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Volume99
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

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focus groups
Focus Groups
food choices
eating habits
Food
adolescent nutrition
ingestion
craving
high fat foods
vegetable products
Feeding Behavior
body image
religion
prepared foods
health foods
vegetarian diet
restaurants
hunger
qualitative analysis
emotions

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Factors influencing food choices of adolescents : Findings from focus- group discussions with adolescents. / Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne; Story, Mary; Perry, Cheryl; Casey, Mary Anne.

In: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Vol. 99, No. 8, 01.01.1999.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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