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Barriers and facilitators to healthy eating among low-income Latino adolescents

The objective of this study was to explore barriers and facilitators to healthy eating among low-income Latino adolescents using an intervention development framework. Semi-structured interviews (n = 30) were conducted with Latino youth ages 13-17 who had overweight or obesity at a safety-net clinic in San Francisco, CA. Adolescent beliefs and attitudes regarding healthy eating and individual, family, and community level barriers and facilitators were elicited. Interviews were analyzed using an inductive approach and the Capability-Opportunity-Motivation (COM-B) model. Participants had capability gaps; while they demonstrated basic nutrition knowledge, they also held significant misconceptions about healthy eating, equating “organic” with healthy and failing to recognize sugar in a number of beverages and foods. Families were a source of support through role modeling and purchasing fresh produce, yet in many cases also undermined adolescents’ healthy eating goals through purchases of high calorie low nutrient food, an opportunity facilitator and challenge. By contrast, peers were mostly a negative influence due to frequent consumption of high calorie low nutrient food. The school environment posed opportunity challenges as participants found school lunch unpalatable and had ready access to unhealthy options nearby. Participants were motivated to improve their eating habits but often not resilient in the face of obstacles. Interventions to promote healthy eating among low-income Latino adolescents should address common nutritional misconceptions, target families as well as teens, consider peer influences, and advocate for policy approaches that improve the school food environment.

Authors: Beck AL; Iturralde E; Haya-Fisher J; Kim S; Keeton V; Fernandez A

Appetite. 2019 07 01;138:215-222. Epub 2019-04-04.

PubMed abstract

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