ELHAM ALJAALY, King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia
Purpose: To explore factors affecting eating behaviours of adolescent girls in Jeddah City, Saudi Arabia, using a theoretical framework (USA based), which used and modified with permission from the main author.
Design/methods: Cross-sectional survey conducted in 18 schools and included 1519 female students (13 to 18 years old). A self-reported questionnaire used to tackle three-level factors influencing eating behaviours include individual, social and physical environment and macro-systems influences.
Findings: Factors included skipping breakfast (75%, n=1140), consumptions of snacks (90%, n=1367), sugar-carbonated drinks (87%, n=1321) and fruits/vegetable (22%, n=334). About 37.5% had dieting attempts and 84% had positive perceptions about health and fitness. The media is the most important source of nutrition information. Peers/families influencing participants’ meal sizes (53%), 87% buy food from school and 42% eat outside their homes. The model supported the impact of the macro-systems (media and school meals’ systems).
Social Implications: The study revealed that all aspects of the girls’ environment, including home, schools and community combined to promote unhealthy eating behaviours and lifestyle. This could influence their food choice and long-term health outcomes, which consequently, requires further evaluation.
Originality/value: This is the first in-depth study of factors affecting eating behaviours of adolescent girls, which was guided by a theoretical framework.
Keywords: theoretical framework; adolescent girls; eating behaviours; personal and environmental influences; Jeddah; Saudi Arabia.