Adolescents’ attitudes, preferences and perceived behaviours regarding healthy eating and whole grains from a gender and health interest perspective

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Background: A healthy diet is important not only for the growth and development of the human body but also for the prevention of chronic diseases. However, most Swedish adolescents do not follow dietary recommen-dations, especially the intake of whole grain is very low. To create targeted conditions for healthy food choices amongst adolescents, comprehensive knowledge of factors related to adolescents’ unhealthy and healthy eating is needed. Objective: To investigate adolescents’ attitudes, preferences and perceived behaviours regarding healthy eating, with a specific focus on whole grains and to evaluate differences between genders and between adolescents with higher versus lower health interest. Design: A total of 1,178 Swedish adolescents responded to a questionnaire about their attitudes, preferences and perceived behabviours towards healthy eating and whole grains, and their general interest in nutrition and health. Results of girls and boys were compared, as well as adolescents with a higher versus lower health interest. Results: Displays information about healthy eating among adolescents and a comprehensive set of factors that may affect their ability to eat healthier. Overall, adolescents had a positive attitude towards food and health, but less than half felt that they managed to eat healthy. The consumption of different whole grain products was low, although the willingness to eat healthier and more whole grain was high. The most reported barrier to healthy eating, as well as increasing whole grain intake, was the unavailability of tasty healthy products, taste being even more important for adolescents with a low health interest than those with a high interest. Whole grain consumption and factors increasing the willingness of whole grain consumption were most prominent not only in adolescents with high health interest but also in girls compared with boys. Conclusion: The results show good potential to improve dietary habits amongst adolescents. Taste and avail-ability of healthy products were rated the most important, whilst knowledge about the products’ healthiness was rated the least important, especially amongst those with low health interest. By focusing on the attitudes and preferences of adolescents, the effectiveness may increase of initiatives to improve their dietary habits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8988
JournalFood and Nutrition Research
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Anna Calvén et al.

    Research areas

  • eating habits, gender, healthy diet, interest in health, whole grain, youth

ID: 347692935