The impact of environmental influences and nutrition knowledge on children's food choices when dining out: An exploratory study in turkey
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The world is threatened today by a global obesity epidemic. Serious health problems already exist in the US, Canada, and countries of the European Union. Turkey may well face the same problems unless serious measures are initiated. Dietary habits could be shaped collaboratively starting in childhood to forestall this epidemic. This dissertation is an exploratory study completed in summer 2005 in Ankara, Turkey. The purpose of this study is: (a) to explore the impact of environmental influences on Turkish children’s food choices when dining out, and (b) to determine the importance of nutritional education both for parents and their children. The focus group methodology used in this study answered the research questions: (a) how dining out impacts a child's healthy eating habits, (b) expectations and satisfaction levels of Turkish families when dining out with children, (c) impact of environmental influences on Turkish children's food likes and dislikes and, (d) impact of nutritional knowledge on Turkish children's food choices. Seven categories emerged from the opinions, ideas, perceptions, and motivations expressed by the focus group participants: (a) dining out with children, (b) children's food likes and dislikes, (c) environmental factors, (d) improvement of current menu selections for children, (e) parents' nutritional knowledge, (f) children's nutritional knowledge, and (g) improvement of current situation through parents’ nutritional concerns and recommendations. Findings of this research will contribute to the literature, but further research will be necessary to cope effectively with the problem.