Harnessing adolescent values to motivate healthier eating

We were made aware of such an interesting article this month! It fits in well with the work we have been exploring with Sarah Newton on ‘what drives’ adolescent behaviour change and development. Sarah has reminded us that when we want to influence, change or develop adolescent behaviour we need to understand what it is that an individual or a group may want more than the change we are suggesting.

In this paper, they have identified the strong desire for this cohort of adolescents to:

  1. To be seen as high status and
  2. To be seen to respect worthy people and
  3. That they are seem to be acting in accordance with important values shared with their peer group.

In this case, the values of asserting their autonomy from adult control and taking a stand in favour of social justice has a significant impact on their choices to resist unhealthy foods.

Young adolescents testing story books we co-created on nutrition issues in Mozambique

So, in line with the work we are doing on a behaviour change model, the intervention was designed in a way that closely aligned with where the adolescents are at, how they want to be seen and what they want to be seen doing – and this had nothing whatsoever to do with sometime in the distant future feeling more healthy.

It is very well worth a read!

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