Article: Youth Speak Out on School Food Environments

Posted by Journal of School Nursing on February 26, 2019

In Philadelphia, over 40% of youth are overweight or obese. The objective in this assessment was to learn about urban residents’ perspectives regarding the local food environment and its impact on eating behaviors. Using photo-elicitation, 20 adolescents reflected on their food environments through photographs and corresponding interviews. Without specific prompting from interviewers, every participant raised concerns about their school food environments, which they commonly found to be unhealthy and unappealing. Participants’ responses reflected four themes: (1) mixed reviews regarding the healthfulness of school vending machines, (2) lunch from home versus lunch from school, (3) factors that influenced food choice at school, and (4) critiques of school food environments. Students embraced the photo-elicitation approach as a way to convey their concerns and to suggest opportunities for improvements. School nurses, who are trusted by students and school personnel, are well-positioned to solicit student input and advocate for healthier school food environments.

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