What motivates their food choice? Children are key informants
Abstract In Australia, children are not eating according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines despite the incorporation of numerous public health initiatives in the school setting. Literature regarding children's views about what influences their food choice is limited. Incorporating children in the creation of strategies to build healthy public policy aligns with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Ottawa Charter framework. In this qualitative study we used participatory action research to determine why children make the food choices they do. Five action cycles were used to collect data from school children and the school canteen. Two of the action cycles, which are the focus of this paper, used Discovery Days (where children worked in groups to design a canteen menu) to collect data from 100 students on each day across grades two to six. Each group recorded and presented the reasons they made the food choices for the menu. Each day was captured by video and audio recordings were transcribed then analysed using a Conventional Content Analysis to identify themes and then theoretical concepts. Emerging theoretical concepts describing children's decision-making criteria included pleasure, texture, social acceptability, versatility and eating context. Our study found children are reliable informants about factors that influence their food choice. Using theoretical concepts as reported by children could be the foundation required to build more effective programs to facilitate healthy decision-making, supportive environments and health policy in the school setting to create healthy food that is desirable to children.
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