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To explore the perceptions of adolescents and their caregivers on drivers of diet and physical activity in rural India in the context of ongoing economic, social and nutrition transition.
A qualitative study comprising eight focus group discussions (FGD) on factors affecting eating and physical activity patterns, perceptions of health and decision-making on food preparation.
Villages approximately 40–60 km from the city of Pune in the state of Maharashtra, India.
Two FGD with adolescents aged 10–12 years (n 20), two with 15- to 17- year-olds (n 18) and four with their mothers (n 38).
Dietary behaviour and physical activity of adolescents were perceived to be influenced by individual and interpersonal factors including adolescent autonomy, parental influence and negotiations between adolescents and caregivers. The home food environment, street food availability, household food security and exposure to television and digital media were described as influencing behaviour. The lack of facilities and infrastructure was regarded as barriers to physical activity as were insufficient resources for public transport, safe routes for walking and need for cycles, particularly for girls. It was suggested that schools take a lead role in providing healthy foods and that governments invest in facilities for physical activity.
In this transitioning environment, that is representative of many parts of India and other Lower Middle Income Countries (LMIC), people perceive a need for interventions to improve adolescent diet and physical activity. Caregivers clearly felt that they had a stake in adolescent health, and so we would recommend the involvement of both adolescents and caregivers in intervention design.
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