Adolescents' views about a proposed rewards intervention to promote healthy food choice in secondary school canteens

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Abstract

Using rewards may be an effective method to positively influence adolescent eating behaviour, but evidence regarding this approach is limited. The aim of this study was to explore young adolescent views about a proposed reward intervention associated with food choice in school canteens. Focus groups were held in 10 schools located in lower socioeconomic areas within Northern Ireland and involved 90 pupils aged 11-12 years (54 girls, 36 boys). Our findings indicated a high degree of acceptability for a reward scheme but there was major diversity in the type of rewards valued by pupils, largely defined by geographical area and socio-cultural differences. Pupils from rural areas tended to emphasize group-based and longer-term rewards, whereas pupils from urban-city schools tended to suggest individualistic and immediate rewards. The major factors influencing food choice were food price, value for money, taste and visual appearance. Pupils felt that factors outside of their control, such as being assigned to the second lunch sitting placed considerable constraints on their food choice. This research not only indicated a high degree of acceptability for a rewards-based intervention but also highlighted a number of socio-cultural and environmental factors that should be considered by researchers when developing such an intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-811
JournalHealth Education Research
Volume29
Issue number5
Early online date22 May 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

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