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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Adolescents’ perceptions of food and food behaviors : an interpretive study Lynam, Mary Judith


This study reports an investigation of teenagers' perceptions of food and their food behaviors. The study was qualitative in design. Data were collected on eleven teenagers in their homes through interviews and observations. Data were analysed using the method of constant comparative analysis. The adolescents' rationales for their food behaviors reflected both their perceptions of what was important regarding foods and food behaviors and how these perceptions or actual behaviors might change over time or as situations changed. The data were interpreted to show that teenagers have frameworks which guide their decision making about food. Processes which contributed to the development of the adolescents' frameworks were their interpretation of cues and knowledge, the comparison of themselves with others and the desire to resolve issues of personal concern. The adolescents were also described as having food behaviors directed by issues related to either "convictions" or "convenience." The knowledge guiding the teenagers' decision making was based on their interpretations of information and personal experiences. Adolescents assessed the usefulness of information presented to them by examining its relevancy to their own situation, its compatibility with personal beliefs and its consistency with sources identified as credible. Such credible sources might include parents, nurses or teachers.

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