The Food Environment Through the Camera Lenses of 9- to 13-Year-Olds Living in Urban, Low-Income, Midwestern Households: A Photovoice Project

Lindsay Heidelberger, Chery Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objective: To pilot Photovoice methodology with low-income, urban 9- to 13-year-olds to gain insight about their food environment and to determine whether this methodology was engaging and acceptable to them. Methods: Photovoice methodology was used to allow children to represent their food environment. Twenty male and 9 female, low-income, 9- to 13-year-old children participated. Quantitative photograph analysis included quantity taken and usable internal/external and social environment and healthfulness categorizations. Qualitative analysis was conducted through open coding of interview transcripts. Results: A total of 345 usable photos were taken by the children (n = 29), depicting both healthy and unhealthy foods. Four themes were identified (1) food characteristics; (2) social environment; (3) kitchen, cooking, and dining environments; and (4) food insecurity. Unhealthy food was most readily available to children. Children reported a lack of functioning kitchen equipment and multiple physical and environmental challenges to consuming a healthy diet. Food insecurity was prevalent. Food stamps and food pantries were used to fill gaps in the home food supply. Conclusions and Implications: Photovoice can be effective in engaging children in conversation about their food environment and increases understanding of their experiences with food. Photovoice can provide insight into the household food environments. This information can be used to tailor interventions to better reflect the living environment and eating behaviors in low-income populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-445.e1
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Education Program for providing funding for this project. They also thank the local programs that assisted in coordinating focus groups, specifically Julie Green and Rachel Greenwalt at the Ginew/Golden Eagle Program and Diana Adamson, Pat Koch, and Stephanie Siegel at the Boys and Girls Club of the Twin Cities. Finally, they thank the children for their interest in being part of the study and their willingness to share their photos and opinions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior.


  • Children
  • Food environment
  • Food insecurity
  • Low-income
  • Photovoice


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