Perceptions and attitudes towards food choice in adolescents in Gaborone, Botswana

Corbett Brown, Sheila Shaibu, Segametsi Maruapula, Leapetswe Malete, Charlene Compher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the factors that influence adolescent and adult perceptions and attitudes related to adolescent diet in Botswana. A series of 15 focus groups [12 adolescent focus groups (6 male and 6 female) & 3 parent focus groups] of approximately six to eleven members each were conducted in Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana in 2009-2010. Adolescents and parents of adolescents suggest that the main drivers of adolescent food choices have much to do with where the adolescent is in terms of time of day as well as with whom the adolescent is with. Outside of the home adolescents suggest that the real or perceived influence of companions place social standing on the ability to purchase and consume non-traditional foods, and that traditional foods leave adolescents open to ridicule. Additionally parents of adolescents suggest that while they prefer for their children to consume healthy foods, they frequently purchase unhealthy food items for their children based on the child's taste preferences as well as social influence to prove you can buy "nice things" for one's family. Adolescents and parents of adolescents suggest that increasing the availability and decreasing the costs of healthy food options are preferred possible interventions to increase healthful eating among adolescents. However, the adolescents also suggest that these healthy food options should not crowd out or completely replace unhealthy options, thus preserving the adolescents' freedom to choose. This could pose a major challenge in any school-based adolescent obesity prevention program.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent dietary preferences
  • Adolescent obesity prevention
  • Barriers to healthy eating
  • Peer influence on diet


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