To explore influences on the diet and physical activity of adolescents living in Mumbai slums, from the perspectives of adolescents and their caregivers.
Three investigators from Mumbai conducted six focus group discussions.
The study was conducted in suburban Mumbai slums.
Thirty-six adolescents (aged 10–12 and 15–17 years) and twenty-three caregivers were recruited through convenience sampling.
The findings highlighted the complex negotiations between adolescent and caregivers surrounding adolescent junk food consumption and physical activity opportunities. Caregivers learned recipes to prepare popular junk foods to encourage adolescents to eat more home-cooked, and less ‘outside’, food, yet adolescents still preferred to eat outside. To adolescents, the social aspect of eating junk food with friends was an important and enjoyable experience. Caregivers felt that they had no control over adolescents’ food choices, whereas adolescents felt their diets were dictated by their parents. Adolescents wanted to be physically active but were encouraged to focus on their academic studies instead. Gender was also a key driver of physical activity, with girls given less priority to use outside spaces due to cultural and religious factors, and parental fears for their safety.
These findings show that adolescents and caregivers have different agendas regarding adolescent diet. Adolescent girls have less opportunity for healthy exercise, and are more sedentary, than boys. Adolescents and caregivers need to be involved in designing effective interventions such as making space available for girls to be active, and smartphone games to encourage healthy eating or physical activity.
- Physical activity
- Qualitative study