Healthful lifestyle habits established in childhood may continue through adulthood. Such habits may also be effective in preventing or reversing overweight and obesity. However, little is known about children's perceptions of healthful eating and physical activity. Thus, we sought a better understanding of how children perceive healthful eating and physical activity.
A purposeful selection was made of Winnipeg, Manitoba, boys (n=23) and girls (n=22) aged 11 to 12 years. The children were interviewed using a semi-structured, in-depth interview guide. Data were analyzed using thematic coding.
Although healthful eating was seen as necessary for health, high-fat, high-sugar foods were a source of pleasure and enjoyed during social times. Physical activity was a way of spending time with friends, either through active play or watching sports. Boys viewed screen time and homework as barriers to physical activity, while girls identified no common barriers. Children viewed physical activity as easier than healthful eating, describing the former as "play" and "fun."
Knowing how children think about food choices will further our understanding of the disconnect between nutrition knowledge and dietary behaviours. Understanding conflicting pressures that influence children's healthful lifestyles may enhance communication about these topics among parents, educators, and children.
Comment In: Can J Diet Pract Res. 2010 Spring;71(1):421815308