Date of Award

Summer 8-2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition and Food Systems

Committee Chair

Carol L. Connell

Committee Chair Department

Nutrition and Food Systems

Committee Member 2

Kathleen Yadrick

Committee Member 2 Department

Nutrition and Food Systems

Committee Member 3

Jamie Zoellner

Committee Member 3 Department

Nutrition and Food Systems


A needs assessment should be conducted to plan effective interventions. This study used a qualitative research approach to examine the eating patterns, food purchasing and preparation skills and practices, barriers and facilitators of dietary change, social and contextual influences on food choices, and preferences for communication and presentation channels and styles of low-income rural African American adolescents. Seven focus groups were conducted with a total of 33 participants, 21 girls and 12 boys, aged 13-18. Adolescents were grouped by age and gender. A moderator, who was trained in focus group methodology, conducted the session using a focus group discussion guide including four sections. Focus group sessions were audio-recorded, and an assistant took written notes. Data was analyzed using content analysis methods. Snacking was a major eating pattern among participants. Most participants stated they ate three or more meals away from home with most being at school. Most participants indicated there were more advantages to eating outside the home than disadvantages. In this study taste was a major barrier to eating healthy food. Most of the adolescents prefer learning through hands-on activities.