oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Narratives of urban female adolescents in South Africa : dietary and physical activity practices in an obesogenic environment : original research

Volume 27, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1607-0658
  • E-ISSN: 2221-1268



The objectives of this study were to investigate the narratives pertaining to dietary and physical activity practices by female adolescents in Soweto.

This was exploratory qualitative research, using duo interviews (pairs of best friends) (n = 29) from adolescent females.
The setting was three urban high schools in the township of Soweto, South Africa.
Subjects were twenty-nine pairs of Grade 12 female adolescents predominantly, with a mean age of 18 years (15.3-21.6, standard deviation 1.1).
The outcome measure was body mass index, interpreted in relation to eating practices and exercise participation.
Locally prepared convenience foods were reported to replace home-prepared breakfast. The majority of participants did not prioritise eating breakfast at home, but purchased deep-fried dough balls ("fat" cakes) from vendors before school. Lunch boxes were also not commonly used as participants preferred to use spending money to purchase food from the school tuck shop. , "fat" cakes and snacks were popular lunch choices because of their affordability, convenience, peer influence and popularity. Respondents engaged in minimal active recreational activities. A lack of facilities and concerns about safety were barriers to activity.
This study highlights the importance of investigating the immediate social context as a potential intervention point to improve the lifestyle of adolescents, to enable them to make the affordable and convenient choice, the healthier choice.

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