Smile Club assists in University study into adolescent nutrition

On Tuesday Amy McKeown visited the summer scheme to help with her university study into the behaviour of teenagers. This involved all the children aged 12 and upwards along with the volunteers.

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The research Amy is conducting is focused on adolescents’ dietary behaviour with the aim of identifying the strength of different influences that affect adolescent food choices. The research applies to 12-18 year olds and looks at influences such as food preference, family, friends, culture, school and existing healthy eating campaigns.

Twenty adolescents took part in the research which consisted of 3 phases; a questionnaire, food menu choices and an informal chat.

Phase 1: The questionnaires assessed different influences on adolescent food choice including food preference, family, friends, culture, school and existing healthy eating campaigns, knowledge, attitudes and motivation.

Phase 2: A booklet comprised of 20 different food menus were presented to the adolescents, each menu was scored on a range of 0-50 on how likely the respondent was to eat the food within each menu.

Phase 3: An informal chat occurred with some respondents to identify their current eating behaviour. The respondent identified the foods they eat, with whom they eat these foods with and how often these foods are eaten.

Understanding the strength of influencing factors on adolescents’ knowledge, attitudes and beliefs in relation to food choice is of great importance for the development of health programmes and  policies. It will add to the analysis of adolescents’ food behaviour and will be beneficial to the individuals, the government and food and nutrition professionals to develop consumer educational strategies


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