Pacific parents' rationale for purchased school lunches and implications for obesity prevention

Tasileta Teevale*, Robert Scragg, Gavin Faeamani, Jennifer Utter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Pacific children and adolescents are burdened with higher prevalences of obesity compared to other groups in New Zealand. Previous research shows Pacific young people purchase their lunch food items significantly more than other groups. The aim of this study is to describe school lunch food consumption patterns and the influences on these among low-income Pacific adolescents and their parents. Using mixed-methodology design; a selfcompletion questionnaire was administered to 4216 students who participated in the New Zealand arm of the Obesity Prevention In Communities (OPIC) project. Thirty Pacific households (33 adolescents and 35 parents) were interviewed in the qualitative phase of the study. Results found a greater proportion of Pacific students purchased school food items compared to other ethnic groups. Purchasing school food was related to having higher amounts of daily food money (≥NZD 6-15) and this was associated with increased quantities of soft drink consumption and after-school food purchasing of high-fat, high-sugar snack foods. There were no differences in school food purchasing behaviour by Pacific weight status (n=2485), with both Healthy weight (67.6%) and Obese students (66.9%) sourcing lunch from school canteens or shops outside of school rather than from home. Time-constrained parents confirmed convenience, poverty compensation and valuing students' independence as three reasons for choosing to make money available for students to purchase lunch food items. The social effects of poverty affect the health-promoting behaviours of Pacific communities in New Zealand. Social policies that decrease social inequities should be the intervention priority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-290
Number of pages9
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


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