Factors Affecting Food Consumption Patterns and Dietary Practices of Adolescent Girls: An Explanatory Sequential Mixed Method Study
Keywords:adolescent girls, healthy eating, socio-economic status, food consumption patterns, dietary practices
AbstractBackground: Adolescent years are critical for building good nutritional status through nutritionally wise choices. Various factors influence and shape food consumption patterns of adolescent girls. Objective: To identify and explore the factors affecting food consumption patterns and dietary practices of adolescent girls. Methods: An explanatory sequential mixed method study was conducted in Lahore. In the quantitative phase, data from 470 adolescent girls was collected through purposive sampling technique, using validated interview guide. Focus Group Discussions (FGD) methodology was conducted in second phase to collect qualitative data. Adolescent girls of different socioeconomic status (SES) and education level were enrolled in 5 FGD after proper written informed consent. FGDs were audio-taped and noted, followed by transcription, coding and thematic analysis. Results: The quantitative results showed that adolescent girls who belonged to low SES consumed healthier diets as compared to middle and high SES adolescent girls. Diet staple, eggs consumption, lentils, beans and fruit consumption patterns were significantly associated (p< 0.05) with SES. Qualitative analysis of FGDs outlined five major themes at socio-cultural, personal and economic levels. Food consumption patterns and dietary practices of adolescent girls were found to be determined by Family trends, Beliefs and taboos, Taste preferences, Lifestyle patterns and Finances. Family food practices laid foundation for good eating habits. Lack of finances had a positive impact on dietary intake of adolescent girls as low purchasing power led to lesser spending on junk food and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Conclusions: Healthy and unhealthy dietary patterns and practices are shaped by various factors at sociocultural, personal and economic levels. Taking these contextual factors into account can prove beneficial for programs aimed at improving nutritional status of adolescent girls in Pakistan and similar cultural settings.
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