Association of Brazilian Adolescents with Healthy Eating: Knowledge, Perceptions and Food Choices


The aim of this study is to identify the adolescents’ knowledge and perceptions of healthy and unhealthy eating. It is a qualitative cross section study with 83 adolescents of both genders between 10 and 16 years old enrolled in a public school in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The participants answered two discursive questions that assessed their knowledge and perception of their actual diet. These questions were later analyzed by a qualitative technique, “Discourse of Collective Subject” based on the Theory of Social Representations. Overall, the youth presented an adequate knowledge about healthy eating. About half (52.6%) reported a balanced and varied diet; and 56.3% considered their actual diet as being healthy. Adolescents’ knowledge about healthy eating isn’t the only determinant for their food choices; and so traditional nutritional interventions focusing on concepts about healthy eating should be modified, aiming at behavioral changes.

Share and Cite:

A. Leme, S. Philippi and É. Silva, "Association of Brazilian Adolescents with Healthy Eating: Knowledge, Perceptions and Food Choices," Food and Nutrition Sciences, Vol. 2 No. 9, 2011, pp. 1036-1042. doi: 10.4236/fns.2011.29138.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] S. R. Daniels, et al., “Overweight in Children and Adolescents. Pathophysiology, Consequences, Prevention and Treatment,” Circulation, Vol. 111, No. 15, 2005, pp. 1999-2012. doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000161369.71722.10
[2] M. M. Abrantes, J. A. Lamonier and E. A. Colosimo, “Prevalência de sobrepeso e obesidade nas regi?es Nordeste e Sudeste do Brasil,” Revista. Associa??o de Medicina Brasileira, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2003, pp. 162-166. doi:10.1590/S0104-42302003000200034
[3] J. Traebert, “ransi??o Alimentar: Problema Comum à Obesidade e à Carie Dentária,” Revista de Nutri??o, Vol. 17, No. 15, 2004, pp. 247-53. doi:10.1590/S1415-52732004000200011
[4] IBGE-Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, Pesquisa de Or?amentos Familiares 2008-2009: Antropometria e Estado Nutricional de Crian?as, Adolescentes e Adultos no Brasil,” Rio de Janeiro, 2010.
[5] ADA—American Dietetic Association, “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition Guidance for Healthy Children Ages 2 to 11 Years. Journal of American Dietetic Association, vol. 108, No. 6, 2008, pp. 1038-1047. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2008.04.005
[6] G. Kourlaba et al?., “Dietary Patterns in Relation to Socio-Economic and Lifestyle Characteristics among Greek Adolescents: A Multivariate Analysis,” Public Health Nutrition, Vol. 12, No. 9, 2008, pp. 1366-1372. doi:10.1017/S1368980008004060
[7] C. C. P. Estima, et al., “Meal Consumption Patterns and Anthropometric Measurements in Adolescents from a Low Socioeconomic Neighborhood in the Metropolitan Area of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,” Appetite, Vol. 52, No. 3, 2009, pp. 735-739. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2009.03.017
[8] K. E. Storey, et al., “Determinants of Diet Quality among Canadian Adolescents,” Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, Vol. 70, No. 2, 2009, pp. 58-65. doi:10.3148/70.2.2009.58
[9] D. Neumark-Sztainer, et al., “Factors Influencing Food Choices of Adolescents: Findings from Focus-Group Discussions with Adolescents,” Journal of American Dietetic Association, Vol. 99, No. 8, 1999, pp. 929-937. doi:10.1016/S0002-8223(99)00222-9
[10] M. Story, D. Neumark-Sztainer and S. French, “Individual and Environmental Influences on Adolescent Eating Behaviors,” Journal of American Dietetic Association, Vol. 102, No. 3, 2002, pp. S40-S51. doi:10.1016/S0002-8223(02)90421-9
[11] C. C. P. Estima, S. T. Philippi and M. S. Alvarenga, “Factores Determinantes do Consume Alimentar: Por Que os Indivíduos Comem o que Comem?” Revista Brasileira de Nutri??o Clinica, Vol. 24, No. 4, 2009, pp. 263-268.
[12] J. P. Taylor and M. McKenna, “Determinants of Healthy Eating in Children and Youth,” Canadian Journal of Public Health, Vol. 96, No. 3, 2005, pp. S20-S26.
[13] M. Harrison and L. A. Jackson, “Meanings that Youth Associate with Healthy and Unhealthy Food,” Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, Vol. 70, No. 1, 2009, pp. 6-12. doi:10.3148/70.1.2009.6
[14] A. Fitzgerald, C. Heary, E. Nixon and C. Kelly, “Factors Influencing the Food Choices of Irish Children and Adolescents: A Qualitative Investigation,” Health Promotion International, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2010, pp. 289-298. doi:10.1093/heapro/daq021
[15] C. Noble, M. Corney, M. Eves, M. Kipps and M. Lumbers, “Food Choice and School Meals: Primary School-Children′s Perceptions of the Healthiness of Food and the Nutritional Implications of Food Choices,” International Journal of Hospitality Management, Vol. 19, No. 3, 2000, pp. 413-432. doi:10.1016/S0278-4319(00)00038-4
[16] E. M. Rodrigues and M. C. F. Boog, “Problematiza??o Como Estratégia de Educa??o Nutricional Com Adole-scentes Obesos,” Caderno de Saúde Pública, Vol. 22, No. 5, 2006, pp. 923-931. doi:10.1590/S0102-311X2006000500005
[17] M. Kersting, et al., “Food and Nutrient Intake, Nutritional Knowledge and Diet-Related Attitudes in European Adolescents,” International Journal of Obesity, Vol. 32, Suppl. 1, 2008, pp. S35-S41. doi:10.1038/ijo.2008.181
[18] J. E. Harris, et al., “An Introduction to Qualitative Research for Food and Nutrition Professionals,” Journal of American Dietetic Association, Vol. 109, No. 1, 2009, pp. 80-90. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2008.10.018
[19] H. Günther, “Pesquisa Qualitativa Versus Pesquisa Quantitativa: Está é a Quest?o?” Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa, Vol. 22, No. 2, 2006, pp. 201-210.
[20] A. M. Canesqui, “Pesquisas Qualitativas em Nutri??o e Alimenta??o,” Revista de Nutri??o, Vol. 22, No 1, 2009, pp. 125-139. doi:10.1590/S1415-52732009000100012
[21] M. Q. Patton, “Qualitative Research & Hhealthy Eating: State of Knowledge and Research Gaps,” The Nature of Qualitative Inquiry, Thousand Oaks, 2002, pp. 1-35.
[22] F. Lefévre and A. M. C. Lefèvre, “The Collective Subject that Speaks,” Interface—Comunica??o, Saúde e Educa??o, Vol. 3, No 1, 2007, pp. 517-524.
[23] D. Jodelet, “Representations Socials: Un Domaine en Expansion,” In: D. Jodelet, Ed., Representation Sociales, PUF, Paris, 1989, pp. 31-61.
[24] M. C. Taylor, “Interviewing,” In: I. Holloway, Ed., Qualitative Research in Health Care, Open University Press, New York, 2005, pp. 39-55.
[25] G. C. B. Garcia, A. M. D. Gambardella and M. F. P. Frutuoso, “Estado Nutricional e Consume Alimentar de Adolescentes de um Centro de Juventude da Cidade de S?o Paulo,” Revista de Nutri??o, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2003, pp. 41-50.
[26] M. Y. Kubik, L. Lytle and J. A. Fulkerson, “Physical Activity, Dietary Practices, and Other Health Behaviors of At-Risk-Youth Attending Alternative High School,” Jornal of School Health, Vol. 74, No. 4, 2004, pp. 119-124. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2004.tb06613.x
[27] C. P. Mendon?a and L. A. Anjos, “Aspectos Das Práticas Alimentares e de Atividade Física Como Determinantes do Crescimento do Sobrepeso/Obesidade No Brasil,” Caderno de Saúde Pública, Vol. 20, No. 3, 2004, pp. 698-709.
[28] H. Patrick and T. A. Nicklas, “A Review of Family and Social Determinants of Children′s Eating Patterns and Diet Quality,” Journal of American Dietetic Association, Vol. 99, No. 3, 2005, pp. 929-934.
[29] N. Toral, M. A. Conti and B. Slater, “A Alimenta??o Saudável na ótica dos Adolescentes: Percep??es e Barreiras à sua Implementa??o e Características Esperadas em Mmateriais Educativos,” Caderno de Saúde Pública, Vol. 25, No. 11, 2009, pp. 2386-2394. doi:10.1590/S0102-311X2009001100009
[30] S. T. Philippi, “Piramide dos Alimentos: Fundamentos Básicos da Nutri??o,” Manole, Barueri, 2008.
[31] J. L. Protudjer, et al., “Children’s Perceptions of Healthful Eating and Physical Activity,” Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, Vol. 71, No. 1, 2010, pp. 19-23. doi:10.3148/71.1.2010.19
[32] L. N. Dapi, et al., “I Eat to be Happy, to be Strong, and to Live, Perceptions of Rural and Urban Adolescents in Cameroon, Africa,” Journal Nutrition of Education Behavior, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2007, pp. 320-326. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2007.03.001

Copyright © 2020 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.