Trading between healthy food, alcohol and physical activity behaviours

Emma Giles, Mary Brennan

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    Abstract

    Background:While recent lifestyle studies have explored the role that food, alcohol or physical activity have on health and wellbeing, few have explored the interplay between these behaviours and the impact this has on a healthy lifestyle. Given the long term health advantages associated with leading healthier lifestyles, this study seeks to: 1) explore the interplay between the food, alcohol and physical activity behaviours of young adults (aged 19–26 years) in the North East of England; 2) explore the trade-offs young adults make between their food, alcohol and physical activity behaviours; and 3) recognise the positive and negative associations between the three behaviours.
    Methods: Qualitative self-reported lifestyle diaries and in-depth interviews were conducted with 50 young adults from the North East of England between February and June 2008. Qualitative thematic analysis was undertaken using Nvivo QSR software, and diary coding using Windiets software.
    Results:Young adults who attempt to achieve a‘healthy lifestyle’make trade-offs between the food and alcohol they consume, and the amounts of physical activity they undertake. There are negative reasons and positive consequences associated with these trade-offs. Young adults recognise the consequences of their behaviours and as a result are prepared to undertake healthy behaviours to compensate for unhealthy behaviours. They prefer certain strategies to promote healthier behaviours over others, in particular those that relate to personalised advice and support, more affordable ways to be healthier and easily-accessed advice from a range of media sources.
    Conclusions: Young adults seek to compensate unhealthy behaviours (e.g. binge drinking) with healthy behaviours (e.g. physical activity). Creative solutions may be required to tackle these trade-offs and promote a balance across the food, alcohol and physical activity behaviours of this age group. Solutions that may be effective with this age group include environmental changes (e.g. green spaces and increasing the price of alcohol) designed to encourage and facilitate young people making healthier choices and improving their access to, and lowering the price of, healthy food products. Solutions must recognise these trade-offs and in particular, the strong reluctance of young adults to alter their higher-than-recommended levels of alcohol consumption.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)-
    Number of pages11
    JournalBMC Public Health
    Volume14
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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