Healthy Living Factsarea

Introsuction of factsarea on healthy eating contributions to an overall sense of well-being, and is a cornerstone in the prevention of a number of conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, dental caries and asthma. For children and young people, healthy eating is particularly important for healthy growth and cognitive development. Eating behaviors adopted during this period are likely to be maintained in adulthood, underscoring the importance of encouraging healthy eating as early as possible [ 1 ]. Directions recommend consumption of at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, reduced intakes or saturated fat and salt consumption and complex carbohydrates [ 2, 3]. Yet average consumption of fruit and vegetables in the UK is only about three portions a day [ 4 ]. A survey of young people aged 11-16 years found that nearly one in five did not go to school [ 5 ]. Recent figures also show alarming numbers of obese and overweight children and young people [ 6 ]. Discussion about how to tackle the 'epidemic' or obesity is currently high on the health policy agenda [ 7 ], and effective health promotion remains a key strategy [ 8-10 ].

Evidence for the effectiveness of interventions is therefore needed to support policy and practice. The aim of this paper is to report a systematic review of the literature on young people and healthy eating. The objectives were

  • (i) to undertake a 'systematic mapping' or research on the barriers to, and facilitators of, healthy eating among young people, especially those from socially excluded groups (eg low-income, ethnic minority-in accordance with government health policy);

  • (ii) to prioritize a subset of studies to systematically review 'in-depth';

  • (iii) to 'synthesize' what is known from these studies about the barriers to, and facilitators of, healthy eating with young people.

  • (iv) to identify gaps in existing research evidence.

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