Qualitative Research on the Perceptions of Factors Influencing Diet and Eating Behaviors Among Primarily Latinx Seventh-Grade Students

Emily Masek, Anaid Gonzalvez, Lela Rankin, Beatriz Vega de Luna, Héctor J. Valdez, Leopoldo Hartmann, Elizabeth Lorenzo, Meg Bruening, Flavio F. Marsiglia, Mary Harthun, Sonia Vega-López

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Latinx youth are a population of concern, at elevated risk for chronic diseases and with poor adherence to dietary recommendations. Objectives: To examine Latinx seventh-grade students’ perceptions of the factors that influence their diet and eating behaviors. Design: This qualitative research used focus groups and an inductive content analysis approach. Participants/setting: Five sex-stratified focus groups (three groups with females) with 35 primarily Latinx seventh-grade students were conducted at two local Title 1 public middle schools in a large metropolitan area of the Southwestern United States. Main outcome measures: The discussion protocol included questions about participants’ food choices, the role of their parents in their diet, and healthy body-related concerns among their peers. Analyses: Verbatim transcripts were coded in NVivo 12 on the basis of specificity, extensiveness, and frequency. Themes emerged from group dialogue, detailed conversations, and predominant topics of discussion, and aligned with ecological systems theory. Results: Participants referred to factors influencing Latinx seventh-grade students’ eating behaviors at the individual, family, household, and school levels. At the individual level, participants described their eating as unhealthy and perceived it as determined by taste, convenience, ease of preparation, and home availability. Participants expressed concerns about diabetes because of their body weight and family history, and identified those concerns as reasons for acceptance of healthy foods and the desire for parents to model healthy eating behaviors. Family-level factors perceived as influencing dietary behaviors included the role of parents as providers of food and models of unhealthy eating, budget constraints, and availability (or lack thereof) of healthy foods at home. Similarly, the identified school-level factors aligned with availability and quality of foods in that environment. Conclusions: Family- and household-related factors emerged as important influences on seventh-grade students’ dietary behaviors. Future diet interventions should incorporate strategies targeting these multiple-level factors that influence dietary intake for Latinx youth and that address the concerns related to disease risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1011-1021
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Volume123
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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