Research Summary

Adolescents' perspectives of home, school and neighborhood environmental influences on physical activity and dietary behaviors

Adolescents' local environments influence their physical activity and food consumption

Children, Youth and Environments
2008

Eating well and being physically active are important to good health and well-being. In this article, Tucker and colleagues review the impact of home, school, and neighborhood environments on adolescents' food behavior and physical activity, and investigate adolescents' perceptions of these environments. As part of this study, researchers interviewed 60 twelve- to fourteen-year-old adolescents in focus groups in London, Ontario, Canada. Tucker and colleagues analyzed the content of information discussed in each focus group to understand influences on participants' food consumption and physical activity. Researchers found that schools, nearby parks, and recreation facilities, as well as other structural opportunities around homes (e.g., yards and presence of other youth) influenced adolescents' physical activity and served as both a facilitator and barrier to their physical activity. For example, the majority of adolescents reported using parks often, however, some participants commented on the small size of local parks, amount of garbage, and the lack of opportunities for older children. Tucker and colleagues also found that adolescents identified the availability of fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, and other restaurants as impacting their food consumption and that a number of participants identified the lack of healthy foods in their schools and neighborhoods. This study offers insight into the local environment's influence on adolescents' physical activity and food consumption.