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Title: Exploring adolescent food choice; : a food environment perspective
Authors: Tyrrell, Rachel Louise
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Obesity is a significant problem in young people. Relative to other age groups, less is known about health related lifestyle behaviours of young people, particularly in the transition period from adolescence to adulthood. Food choices are made within the food environment, which encompasses any opportunity to obtain food or influence food choice. Environmental exposures such as the availability and accessibility of ‘more healthy’ and ‘less healthy’ food options interact with individual factors to drive food choice. The aim of this work was to explore whether, and to what extent, the food environment to which a young person is exposed has an influence on individual dietary intake. A range of methods including food diaries in conjunction with text messaging and photography, questionnaires, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and qualitative interviews were used. The majority of young people (96%) reported using a food outlet at least once over a 4-day period. Less healthy food outlets, such as takeaways and convenience stores, were the most frequently used. Being exposed to a greater number of food outlets was significantly associated with visiting a greater number of food outlets. Similarly, being exposed to a greater proportion of ‘less healthy’ food outlets was associated with visiting a greater proportion of ‘less healthy’ food outlets. However, relationships between the number of food outlets visited and dietary intake were weak and there was little evidence to suggest an association between exposure to food outlets and dietary intake. Qualitative results indicated that time, geographic location, economic cost and social occasion influenced choice of food outlet. In addition, the particular food outlet chosen appeared to dictate the food choices made with habitual repeat ordering of meals an emerging theme. No previous research has linked individual eating behaviour to the food environment. Identifying the types of outlets young people use, the food choices made within and the factors influencing decisions and behaviours is important for the development of targeted long term obesity prevention strategies to facilitate healthier food outlet environments.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Institute of Health and Society

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