This qualitative study documents perceived benefits of and barriers to engaging in healthy eating behaviors among adolescents in New Delhi, India. Researchers explored factors that influenced the consumption of breakfast, fruits and vegetables, and soft drinks in this population and adolescents’ ideas about how to intervene to encourage or discourage, respectively, these behaviors. Students (n=151 6th and 8th graders) from five private schools participated in focus group discussions. Findings showed that the majority of youth eat breakfast that may consist of traditional and Western choices. Despite sound knowledge of the benefits of fruits and vegetables consumption, adolescents do not eat the recommended daily servings due to flavor preferences. Soft drink consumption was, reportedly, universal. Several factors influenced these decisions and details are herein provided. The paucity of studies on this subject provides researchers with the opportunity to explore how eating patterns of Indian youth might be shaping the health and disease landscape of India in the upcoming decades. The study adds to the slim body of literature on the subject and could be used to inform future nutrition interventions in India.

Author Biography

Melissa Harrell is a behavioral epidemiologist at UT Health School of Public Health. Her research studies focus on youth health promotion in domestic and international settings. Her experiences include over 15 years designing health promotion programs for young people in India.

Jose Medina is a qualitatively-oriented public health doctor with over 15 years of local, state, national, and international experience in public health practice, health communications, marketing, research, and academia.

Gaurang Nazar is trained in clinical medicine and public health. He has played a supportive role in multiple qualitative and quantitative research studies focused on adolescent lifestyle change towards healthy behaviors in India.

Blanche Greene-Cramer recently received her PhD in Health Promotion at the UT Health School of Public Health. Her dissertation studies were focused on the emerging epidemic of childhood obesity in India.

Shreela Sharma is trained in dietetics and physical therapy and currently serves on faculty in epidemiology at the UT Health School of Public Health. Her research program is focused on childhood obesity prevention and includes studies of dietary behavior in Indian children and their families.

Monika Arora is a member of the faculty at PHFI (the Public Health Foundation of India). Trained in public health and preventive cardiology, her research interests focus on positively influencing adolescent behaviors for the prevention of chronic diseases. Her research also includes over 15 years of experience designing health promotion programs for young people in India.