Considerations for health and food choice in adolescents
A. N. Daly; E. J. O'Sullivan; J. M. Kearney
Year of publication
Proc Nutr Soc
The aim of this review is to summarise the common barriers and motivations for healthy food choice among adolescents, with a specific focus on the Irish context where available. It will also discuss other concerns adolescents have, which may influence their food choices and eating habits. Adolescence represents a period of rapid physical, mental and social development, and many health-related habits developed during adolescence tend to persist into adulthood, making the teenage years an optimal time to encourage healthy eating and health-promoting behaviours. Adolescents are concerned about the health impact of their diet, but their understanding of health is often seen in the context of their physical appearance or body image. Body image concerns are prevalent in adolescents, and this can affect their food choices. Taste, price and convenience are commonly noted factors influencing adolescents' food choices, and as they grow, their level of independence increases and spending more time with their peers means that social desirability and social norms about food become increasingly important factors in adolescent food choice. However, their limited autonomy means their supporting food environment also plays an important role. When developing more targeted interventions in adolescent populations, information on adolescent nutrition needs, their concerns for health and body image, and the barriers and motivations for healthy eating and food choice should be considered. Such a holistic approach should help support healthy eating and the prevention of overweight and obesity in the population, whilst also supporting a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.