The link between diet and health: an exploratory study of adolescents in Northern Ireland using foodmaps

Aoibéann Walsh, Roy Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


A significant proportion of consumers in the UK continue to adopt a diet consisting largely of nutritionally unbalanced foods. The adolescent period has been identified as being formative in the development of long-term eating habits as the individual achieves greater control over their food choice. By examining the current eating behaviour of a sample of adolescents, the aim of this study was to establish why they are not utilizing their knowledge to choose nutritionally balanced foods. A two-stage data collecting procedure was adopted. In stage 1, respondents (n = 136) completed a questionnaire that measured demographic and social factors, knowledge, attitudes, pre-existing behaviour with respect to food and the influence of family, peers, the media and government campaigns on their
ating behaviour. In stage 2, a subsection of the respondents(n = 20) completed a foodmap, which revealed the network of relationships involved in the adolescents’ decision-making process by identifying the links among the foods consumed, the people they eat with and theplacestheyeatin.Resultsemphasizedtheimportanceofthehomeenvironmentandthe continuing influence of parents on adolescents’ eating behaviour despite the greater independence related to this stage of the life cycle. A proportion of the sample was found to have recognized the need to change their eating behaviour in order to lose weight, because of their sporting commitments or to improve their health. Recommendations from this study include the need for the various agencies involved in the promotion of balanced dietary behaviour to attend to the link among adult, family and adolescent, and the need for greater progress in enabling consumers to translate the theory of nutritional education into practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190 - 195
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Issue number2
Early online date01 Feb 2010
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


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