Adolescent nutrition and physical activity in low-income suburbs of Abidjan, Côte d'lvoire: the gap between knowledge, aspirations and possibilities.
Jesson J., Kouakou EK., Hardy-Johnson P., Ngoran-Theckly P., Kehoe SH., Adonis L., Fall C., Leroy V., Barker M., Weller S., TALENT Collaboration None.
ObjectiveTo explore adolescents' perceptions, knowledge and behaviours regarding nutrition and physical activity in low-income districts of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, taking into consideration their caregivers' perspectives.DesignTwo investigators conducted six focus group discussions.SettingThe study was carried out in two low-income suburbs, Yopougon and Port-Bouët, in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.ParticipantsAdolescents and their caregivers were recruited into the study via local head teachers and heads of settlement.ResultsOverall, seventy-two participants, including forty-six adolescents and twenty-six caregivers, took part. Participants demonstrated good nutrition knowledge, relating nutritional health to a balanced diet and hygiene. Sustained physical activity was reported. However, adopting good practices was challenging due to participant's economic circumstances. Their environment was a barrier to improving health due to dirtiness and violence, with a lack of space limiting the possibility to practice sport. Adolescents and their caregivers differed in their response to these constraints. Many caregivers felt powerless and suggested that a political response was the solution. Alternatively, adolescents were more likely to suggest new creative solutions such as youth-friendly centres within their community.ConclusionsParticipants were aware that their nutritional habits were not in line with what they had learnt to be good nutritional practices due to socio-economic constraints. Physical activity was part of adolescent life, but opportunities to exercise were restricted by their environment. Strategies for improving adolescent health in these settings need to be developed in collaboration with adolescents in a manner that accommodates their opinions and solutions.