With a view to preventing obesity and weight-related problems, this research sought to better understand the role of social context in the adoption and development of lifestyle habits in adolescents (diet and physical activity).
In order to collect young people's viewpoints on their socio-cultural environment, the researchers conducted individual interviews with 50 adolescents enrolled in four high schools in four regions of Québec. The questions focused on the context of meals eaten at home and at school, organized and unstructured physical activities, as well as relationships with family and peers in these different contexts.
An analysis of the responses highlighted several observations regarding eating habits, physical activity and body standards.
An analysis of the responses highlighted several observations regarding eating habits, physical activity and body standards. For example, for youth aged 12 to 14, the family serves as the primary point of reference in terms of eating; during adolescence, physical activity is closely linked to sociability; standards of performance and body image in sport lead some adolescents to see their body as an obstacle to engaging in physical activity; in general, youth aged 12 to 14 understand the messages promoting healthy eating habits and active lifestyles, but their environment is not always favourable to taking appropriate action.
The study's findings could lead to improved measures for promoting the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits among adolescents, taking greater account of the socio-cultural context.
Marie Marquis, Université de Montréal
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Deposit of the research report: August 2013