|dc.description.abstract||Background: Prevalence of obesity is high amongst Pacific youth aged 16-24years. To
understand obesity amongst Pacific youth, exploration into their social realities, culture, diet
quality and food habits is needed.
Aim: To explore dietary diversity and eating habits as well as cultural factors that influence food
consumption of Pacific youth aged 16-24 years using a qualitative approach.
Methodology: A sample of 30 Pacific youth was purposively selected. Diet quality was
assessed using a newly developed dietary diversity questionnaire specific to Pacific people,
based on guidelines from the FAO. Eating habits, meal patterns, food choices and related
cultural and social influences was explored using a qualitative face-to-face interview.
Results: Dietary diversity scores (DDS) were calculated by counting the number of established
food groups (total of 26 food groups divided into 15 nutritious and 11 discretionary food groups).
Food variety scores (FVS) were calculated by counting the number of individual food items
consumed (n=227 foods in total; 129 nutritious foods and 98 discretionary foods) as well as
within each food group. The eating habits data was analysed using a content analysis approach
where trends in meal patterns, consumption at social occasions and weight status were
Dietary diversity: the mean total DDS was 23.1; the mean DDS of nutritious and discretionary
food groups was 14.3 and 8.83 respectively. The mean total FVS was 91, the mean FVS of the
nutritious and discretionary foods was 51.7 and 39.3 respectively. The most variety in the
nutritious category was identified in the Vitamin A and Vitamin C rich fruit and vegetable groups,
however, only moderate amounts of food items were consumed from these groups. The most
variety in the discretionary category was identified in the drinks group where intakes ranged
between four and ten items out of a total 14 identified items. Eating habits: a two-meals/day
pattern was observed, with over half the participants skipping breakfast and consuming snacks
during the day. For sixteen participants, their food intake increased due to the availability of a
large variety of freely available food in their social environments.
Weight: over half (57%) of the participants were unhappy with their weight and many of these
participants have tried diet and exercise to manage their weight. Many participants perceived
their unhealthy lifestyles to be the cause of overweight and obesity.
Conclusion: dietary diversity was high amongst Pacific youth, however, the variety of nutritious
foods consumed were moderate in comparison to discretionary foods; indicative of a moderate
diet quality. Lack of time for meal preparation, convenience, low cost and taste were the
reasons for established eating habits. Vast availability of foods as well as cultural values around
food consumption were reasons contributing to increased food intake at social occasions.||en_US