'It's hard to make good choices and it costs more': Adolescents' perceptions of the external school food environments
Nic Gabhainn, Saoirse
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Kelly, Colette, Callaghan, Mary, & Gabhainn, Saoirse Nic. (2021). ‘It’s Hard to Make Good Choices and It Costs More’: Adolescents’ Perception of the External School Food Environment. Nutrients, 13(4). doi:10.3390/nu13041043
Abstract: Research on the impact of school and community food environments on adolescent food choice is heavily reliant on objective rather than subjective measures of food outlets around schools and homes. Gaining the perspective of adolescents and how they perceive and use food environments is needed. The aim of this study was to explore adolescent s perception and use of the food environment surrounding their schools. Purposive sampling was used to recruit schools. Mapping exercises and discussion groups were facilitated with 95 adolescents from six schools. Thematic analysis showed that adolescents are not loyal to particular shops but are attracted to outlets with price discounts, those with deli counters and sweets. Cost, convenience and choice are key factors influencing preference for food outlets and foods. Quality, variety and health were important factors for adolescents but these features, especially affordable healthy food, were hard to find. Social factors such as spending time with friends is also an important feature of food environments that deserves further attention. Adolescents perceptions of their food environment provide insights into features that can be manipulated to enable healthy choices.
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