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To: (i) understand facilitators and barriers to healthy eating practices and physical activity in younger and older urban adolescent South African boys and girls; and (ii) understand how the views of caregivers interact with, and influence, adolescent behaviours.
Semi-structured focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted in July 2018. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Seventy-five participants were stratified into eight FGD as follows: two for young boys and girls (10–12 years); two for older boys and girls (15–17 years); two for caregivers of young adolescents (boys and girls); and two for caregivers of older adolescents (boys and girls).
Unlike their caregivers, adolescents were not motivated to eat healthily and failed to appreciate the need to develop consistent patterns of both healthy eating and physical activity for their long-term health. Although adolescents gained independence with age, they commonly attributed unhealthy food choices to a lack of autonomy and, thereby, to the influence of their caregivers. Adolescents and caregivers perceived their engagement in physical activity according to distinct siloes of recreational and routine activity, respectively. Both similarities and differences in the drivers of healthy eating and physical activity exist in adolescents and caregivers, and should be targeted in future interventions.
Our study identified a complex paradigm of eating practices and physical activity in South African adolescents and their caregivers. We also highlighted the need for a new narrative in addressing the multifaceted and interrelated determinants of adolescent health within urban poor settings.
A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) was introduced in South Africa in April 2018. Our objective was to document perceptions and attitudes among urban South Africans living in Soweto on factors that contribute to their SSB intake and on South Africa’s use of a tax to reduce SSB consumption.
We conducted six focus group discussions using a semi-structured guide.
The study was conducted in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, 3 months before South Africa’s SSB tax was implemented.
Adults aged 18 years or above living in Soweto (n 57).
Participants reported frequent SSB consumption and attributed this to habit, addiction, advertising and wide accessibility of SSB. Most of the participants were not aware of the proposed SSB tax; when made aware of the tax, their responses included both beliefs that it would and would not result in reduced SSB intake. However, participants indicated cynicism with regard to the government’s stated motivation in introducing the tax for health rather than revenue reasons.
While an SSB tax is a policy tool that could be used with other strategies to reduce people’s high level of SSB consumption in Soweto, our findings suggest a need to complement the SSB tax with a multipronged behaviour change strategy. This strategy could include both environmental and individual levers to reduce SSB consumption and its associated risks.
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