Research Brief| Volume 47, ISSUE 5, P437-445.e1, September 2015

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The Food Environment Through the Camera Lenses of 9- to 13-Year-Olds Living in Urban, Low-Income, Midwestern Households: A Photovoice Project



      To pilot Photovoice methodology with low-income, urban 9- to 13-year-olds to gain insight about their food environment and to determine whether this methodology was engaging and acceptable to them.


      Photovoice methodology was used to allow children to represent their food environment. Twenty male and 9 female, low-income, 9- to 13-year-old children participated. Quantitative photograph analysis included quantity taken and usable internal/external and social environment and healthfulness categorizations. Qualitative analysis was conducted through open coding of interview transcripts.


      A total of 345 usable photos were taken by the children (n = 29), depicting both healthy and unhealthy foods. Four themes were identified (1) food characteristics; (2) social environment; (3) kitchen, cooking, and dining environments; and (4) food insecurity. Unhealthy food was most readily available to children. Children reported a lack of functioning kitchen equipment and multiple physical and environmental challenges to consuming a healthy diet. Food insecurity was prevalent. Food stamps and food pantries were used to fill gaps in the home food supply.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Photovoice can be effective in engaging children in conversation about their food environment and increases understanding of their experiences with food. Photovoice can provide insight into the household food environments. This information can be used to tailor interventions to better reflect the living environment and eating behaviors in low-income populations.

      Key Words

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