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To use an innovative mixed-method approach to analyse and describe 8–10-year-olds’ home and school food environments.
A mixed-method approach to collect qualitative and quantitative data was used, in which pupils took photographs over four days to record their food intake and food environment. The photographs were discussed in focus groups. A combination of lunchtime observations and questionnaires completed by parents were used to build up a picture of the children's home and school food environments.
A primary school in a suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Twenty-seven children aged 8–10 years consented to take part in the study. Twenty-four returned cameras, and eighteen parents completed questionnaires.
Photographs illustrated a range of locations throughout the home where children consumed food. Children's photographs revealed they ate less often with family and more often in front of the television than reported in parental questionnaires. Emergent themes during focus group discussions revealed a strong preference for packed lunches and dissatisfaction with school dinners. In this small sample, children's eating habits and preferences showed few associations with either gender or the deprivation level of the area in which they lived.
The children's home food environments showed a great deal of variation, with parents being key moderators of food availability and consumption. While the school's food provisions met national nutritional standards, the social aspects of having a packed lunch appeared to be a positive aspect of eating at school.
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