Food choices established during childhood and adolescence tend to persist into adulthood with consequences for long-term health. Yet, to date, relatively little research has examined factors that influence the food choices of children and adolescents from their perspectives. In this article, previous research is extended by examining developmental differences between children's and adolescents' perceptions of factors influencing their food choices. Focus group discussions were conducted with 29 young people from three age groups (910, 1314 and 1618 years). An inductive thematic analysis identified three key factors as influencing food choices. These factors included intra-individual factors: the link between food preferences and awareness of healthy eating; intra-familial factors: the role of the home food environment; and extra-familial factors: eating away from the home. Findings indicate that there were developmental differences between children's and adolescents' perceptions of factors influencing food choice. Among adolescents, parental control began to diminish and adolescents exercised increased autonomy over their food choices compared with children. To develop effective nutrition interventions, it is important to gather child and adolescent input regarding factors perceived as influencing their food choices.
Health Promotion International – Oxford University Press
Published: Sep 10, 2010
Keywords: children adolescents food choices Ireland
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