Nutrients are consumed through the food that we eat, and through metabolic processes in the digestive system these nutrients are absorbed at a cellular level in the body. Optimum nutrition contributes to health, wellbeing, normal development, and high quality of life.
However, undernutrition, overnutrition, and malnutrition are linked to suboptimal health outcomes. Such poor diets have been linked to the occurrence of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, Type-2 diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and anaemia. For example, research reports that low intake of fruit and vegetables increases the risk for developing cancer (Steinmetz & Potter 1996) , as well as cardiovascular disease, whereas low intake of dietary fibre has been linked to being overweight. Obesity is often a consequence of overnutrition, and it is an ever-increasing problem in both developing and food-secure countries, such as Australia. A recent longitudinal study conducted in Victoria report on the significant increase of obesity from adolescence to adulthood.
This study of 1520 adolescents tracked over a period of 10 years also highlights the decreased likelihood of overweight adolescents achieving a normal weight in adulthood (Patton et al. 2010). Frequently linked with a greater proneness to Type-2 diabetes, obesity severely affects health-related quality of life in a range of domains, including, physical, social and psychological. However, factors influencing obesity and chronic diseases are more complex than diet alone. For example, together with increased sedentary behaviour, decreased physical activity has been shown to play a crucial role in becoming overweight and obese (Steinmetz & Potter 1996). For the purposes of this project, and literature review, the focus will be on the diet and nutrition of apprentices, although the influence of other factors is acknowledged, but noted as outside the scope of this project. Individuals’ reasons for buying and eating particular foods have been described as a “complex biopsychosocial process that is relative to person, place and time” (Walsh & Nelson 2010, p.
194). Researchers believe that dietary habits and food preferences develop in childhood, are established by age 15.(Birch 1999; Sweeting & Anderson 1994). For example, Lytle and colleagues conducted a large-scale longitudinal study of youth between the ages of 8 and 14, and found that their diets became less nutrient-dense over time. In particular, this study found that during adolescence young people’s diets showed an increase in fat, saturated fat and sodium, and a decrease in vitamins, minerals and fibre – these nutrients are all those implicated in chronic disease. Adolescents have also been found to consume less than adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. In comparison to younger children, teens might also be exposed to more unhealthy food choices in their environment (Lytle et al.
2002). Apart from transitional issues there are also a number of collective factors which influences the decisions individuals make about food, which includes familial factors, food supply, and food acquisition (Taylor, Evers & McKenna 2005).Recent research conducted with Irish adolescents (Walsh & Nelson 2010) indicates that parents are the biggest influencers in their children’s diets. In particular the frequency of shared dinners had a positive effect on adolescents’ food knowledge (Walsh & Nelson 2010). Other factors influencing 3 adolescents’ diets included their nutritional knowledge, friends, government health campaigns and cooking programs on television (Walsh & Nelson 2010).
For example, Jalleh and Donovan demonstrated that even though two products were identical, the positive framing of product attributes (e.g., 75% fat free) as opposed to negative framing (e.g., 25% fat content) influenced consumers’ choice of purchasing the positively-framed product, as well as their positive perceptions of the product’s taste and quality.