Schools’ Cafeteria Status: Does it Affect Snack Patterns? A Qualitative Study

Fatemeh Esfarjani, Fatemeh Mohammadi-Nasrabadi, Roshanak Roustaee, Majid Hajifaraji


Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate patterns of students’ snacks habits regarding to their schools’ cafeteria status in Tehran by focus group discussion (FGD) technique.

Methods: Participants were 240 students (12‑15 years old), selected from12 middle‑schools in Tehran. The field study consisted of 24 FGDs sessions; involving 8‑10 participants. Collected data were coded, categorized and analyzed using constant comparative method.

Results: Over half of the students believed that snack consumption is necessary. Although, majority of students believed that their schools’ cafeterias are not acceptable, they noted them as one of the necessary parts of school. Nearly half of the children were complaining of unvaried and expensive food items. The most purchased items were: Cookies, sandwiches with mayonnaise and ketchup, soft drinks and chocolate milk. Most of the students were interested in having roles in their cafeterias.

Conclusions: Schools’ cafeteria are significant sources of supplying adolescents’ snacks, so developing hygienic stores containing healthy and nutritious food items is a key element to affect their snack selection positively. Reaching this goal requires a multi disciplinary approach through participation of students, school staff, parents, and the support of community and media.

Keywords: Cafeteria, focus group discussion, habit, prevent, school, snack

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