Meanings That Youth Associate
With Healthy and Unhealthy Food
MICHELLE HARRISON, MA, LOIS A. JACKSON, PhD, Health Promotion Program, Dalhousie University, Haiifax, NS
Abstract Purpose: The s)TObolic meanings that yotith associate with food were explored, as were barriers to accessing healtliy foods. Methods: Qualitative methods and a constnicti\'ist approach were employed, and data were collected üirough semi-stiiictiired inteniews and a card-sorting activity. Thirteen adolescents aged 13 to t5 (seven girls, six boys) were recitiited through public schools and posters displayed in commtinity settings. Thematic analytical techniques were used to analyze the data. Results: Participants classified foods into healthy and unhealthy groups, as well as into an "in-between" group that included nutritionally enhanced foods. Healthy and unhealthy foods were linked to a variety of physical, social, and emotional meanings. Some meanings associated with foods were also disctissed in gendered terms, and ntmierotis barriers to accessing healthy foods were reported. Conclusions: Foods hold multiple meanings for youth. Programs and policies aimed at fostering healtliy eating need to capitalize on positive associations related to healtliy foods. Negative associations related to healthy foods need to be acknowledged and sü-ategies developed to recast such linkages. Likewise, tlie positive associations linked to unhealthy foods need to be addressed. Sti^ategies also need to be developed to ensure access to healthy foods in all settings, especially within schools and community leisure settings. (Can J Diet Prac Res 2009;70:6-12) (DOI: 10.3148/70.1.2009.6)
Résumé Objectif. Les significations syinboliqties qtie lesjetines associent aux aliments ont été examinées, ainsi que les obstacles à l'accès à des aliments sains. Méthodes. Des méthodes qualitatives et tine approche constiiictixiste ont été titilisées et les données ont été rectieillies ati moyen... [continues]
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