About this item:

1,012 Views | 1,083 Downloads

Author Notes:

Allison C. Sylvetsky: Email: allison.sylvetsky@nih.gov

None of the authors have any conflict of interests to report, and none of this data has been previously published.


Research Funding:

This work was supported, in part, by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

This study was also supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Grant K23DK080953 (vos).


  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Awareness
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Comorbidity
  • Comprehension
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Food Habits
  • Food Preferences
  • Georgia
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity
  • Perception
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior

Youth understanding of healthy eating and obesity: A focus group study


Journal Title:

Journal of Obesity


Volume 2013, Number 670295


Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Introduction. Given the high prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States, we aimed to investigate youth's understanding of obesity and to investigate gaps between their nutritional knowledge, dietary habits, and perceived susceptibility to obesity and its co-morbidities. Methods. A marketing firm contracted by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta facilitated a series of focus group discussions (FGD) to test potential concepts and sample ads for the development of an obesity awareness campaign. Data were collected in August and September of 2010 with both overweight and healthy weight 4th-5th grade and 7th-8th grade students. We conducted a secondary analysis of the qualitative FGD transcripts using inductive thematic coding to identify key themes related to youth reports of family eating habits (including food preparation, meal frequency, and eating environment), perceived facilitators and barriers of healthy diet, and knowledge about obesity and its complications. Results. Across focus group discussions, mixed attitudes about healthy eating, low perceived risk of being or becoming obese, and limited knowledge about the health consequences of obesity may contribute to the rising prevalence of obesity among youth in Georgia. Most youth were aware that obesity was a problem; yet most overweight youth felt that their weight was healthy and attributed overweight to genetics or slow metabolism. Conclusions. Our analysis suggests that urban youth in Georgia commonly recognize obesity as a problem, but there is less understanding of the link to lifestyle choices or the connection to future morbidities, suggesting a need for education to connect lifestyle behaviors to development of obesity.

Copyright information:

© 2013 Allison C. Sylvetsky et al.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits distribution of derivative works, making multiple copies, distribution, public display, and publicly performance, provided the original work is properly cited. This license requires copyright and license notices be kept intact, credit be given to copyright holder and/or author.

Creative Commons License

Export to EndNote