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Open AccessArticle

Socio-Economic Factors, the Food Environment and Lunchtime Food Purchasing by Young People at Secondary School

1
Centre for Research in Public Health and Community Care (CRIPACC), University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield, Herts AL10 9AB, UK
2
Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lausanne, UNIL-Mouline, Bâtiment Géopolis, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
3
Department of Marketing and Enterprise, Hertfordshire Business School, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Herts AL10 9AB, UK
4
Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, 27–28 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(9), 1605; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16091605
Received: 1 April 2019 / Revised: 26 April 2019 / Accepted: 30 April 2019 / Published: 8 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Health Economics)
The aim of this paper is to report on the lunchtime food purchasing practices of secondary school students and some of the factors related to this purchasing, including the influence of socio-economic status (SES) and the food environment within and around schools. A mixed-methods study incorporating an online purchasing recall questionnaire and multiple qualitative methods was undertaken at seven UK secondary schools. The analysis shows that SES was intricately woven with lunchtime food practices. Three-quarters of participants regularly purchased food outside of school; those at low SES schools were more likely to report regularly leaving school to buy food. Young people’s perception of food sold in schools in areas of low SES was often negative and they left school to find “better” food and value for money. Taste, ingredients and advertisements were factors that mattered to young people at schools with low or mixed SES; health as a driver was only mentioned by pupils at a high SES school. For public health initiatives to be effective, it is critical to consider food purchasing practices as complex socio-economically driven phenomena and this study offers important insights along with suggestions for designing interventions that consider SES. Availability of food outlets may be less important than meeting young people’s desires for tasty food and positive relationships with peers, caterers and retailers, all shaped by SES. Innovative ways to engage young people, taking account of SES, are required. View Full-Text
Keywords: food purchasing practices; food environment; secondary school; young people; SES; mixed methods; qualitative methods; purchasing recall questionnaire food purchasing practices; food environment; secondary school; young people; SES; mixed methods; qualitative methods; purchasing recall questionnaire
MDPI and ACS Style

Wills, W.; Danesi, G.; Kapetanaki, A.B.; Hamilton, L. Socio-Economic Factors, the Food Environment and Lunchtime Food Purchasing by Young People at Secondary School. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 1605.

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