Improving adolescents’ dietary behaviours in the school-setting: challenges and opportunities

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Abstract

Adolescence is a critical time of physical, psychological and social development, and thus, optimal nutritional intakes are required during this life stage. Despite this, adolescence is recognised as a period of nutritional vulnerability, with many reportedly failing to meet current dietary guidelines. The school-setting presents a favourable environment to intervene and promote positive dietary behaviours and is also inclusive regardless of socio-economic status. However, a lack of consensus exists on how best to utilise schools to facilitate improvements in dietary behaviours among this age group. Whilst previous research has focused on identifying the factors motivating dietary choices within the school-setting, less is known on the optimum strategies to enhance these dietary choices which could positively contribute to the design of future interventions. It is reported that adolescents have good nutritional knowledge, although this does not appear to be a central consideration when making their dietary choices. Alternative factors at the individual (taste, visual appeal, familiarity, food quality, price, portion size, value for money, time/ convenience), social (peer influence), physical (product placement) and macro environment (food availability) levels have been frequently cited as important influences on adolescents' dietary choices in school. Although school-based interventions have shown potential in achieving positive dietary change among adolescents, more research is needed to determine the most effective methods in improving dietary behaviours in schools. This review summarises the key factors which influence adolescents' school-based dietary choices and the effectiveness of previously conducted interventions, identifying promising components for consideration when developing future dietary interventions within the school-setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalProceeding of the Nutrition Society
Volume82
Issue number2
Early online date14 Feb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished online - 14 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was undertaken as part of a PhD scholarship funded by the Department for the Economy and the peer-led intervention undertaken in schools(108) was supported by a grant from the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) Generating Excellent Nutrition in UK Schools (GENIUS) Network.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • school
  • dietary choice
  • intervention

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