242834 How Social and Physical Environments Influence Obesity: A Qualitative Study of Youth in South Korea

Monday, October 31, 2011: 11:06 AM

Sohyun Park, MS , Center for Human Nutrition, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Jae-Heon Kang, MD, MPH, PhD , Institute for Clinical Nutrition, Seoul-Paik Hospital, Inje University, Seoul, South Korea
Joel Gittelsohn, PhD , Center for Human Nutrition, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Background: Environmental factors may contribute to the increased obesity prevalence in South Korean children. Valid and reliable instruments are needed to document key environmental factors, and their influence on health behaviors.

Methods: In-depth interviews and focus groups with 9 parents, 16 teachers, and 3 children (4th~7th graders, all boys) were conducted (21 interviews and 2 focus groups). Participants were purposively selected from metropolitan areas of South Korea. Recorded interviews were transcribed and coded using Atlas-ti (Ver 6.0), and analyzed using Framework Analysis.

Results: Main themes that emerged were: 1) home environments (e.g. what is available at home) and exposure to healthy foods at an early age by other family members (e.g. grand parents) are the most important factors in having healthy eating habits among youth, 2) families with working mothers tend to eat out more often than families with stay-at-home mothers, 3) easy access to street foods, unhealthy foods at stores in and outside of schools are very common among older children, 4) poor physical and social environments prevent teens from being physically active (e.g. small playground, emphasis on academic achievement), 5) lack of nutrition education in elementary schools results in low vegetable intake at school lunch. The above information is included in the instruments that are being developed to measure social and physical environments.

Policy implications: Future studies that utilize the environmental assessment instruments can suggest new policy initiatives that attempt to modify obesity-related behaviors through changes in social and physical environments.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
To identify physical and social environments that influence eating habits and physical activities of youth in South Korea using a qualitative research approach To describe perceptions of environmental factors influencing obesity of parents and teachers of South Korean youth To demonstrate how qualitative formative work can be used to develop tools for assessing the food and physical activity environments

Keywords: Obesity, Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Ph D candidate at a School of Public Health and have been conducting an independent research for my thesis dissertation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.