Background: Healthy eating behaviour is an essential determinant of overall health. This behaviour is generally poor among people at risk of experiencing food insecurity, which may be caused by many factors including perceived higher costs of healthy foods, financial stress, inadequate nutritional knowledge, and inadequate skills required for healthy food preparation. Few studies have examined how these factors influence eating behaviour among people at risk of experiencing food insecurity. We therefore aimed to gain a better understanding of the needs and perceptions regarding healthy eating in this target group. Methods: We conducted a qualitative exploration grounded in data using inductive analyses with 10 participants at risk of experiencing food insecurity. The analysis using an inductive approach identified four core factors influencing eating behaviour: Health related topics; Social and cultural influences; Influences by the physical environment; and Financial influences. Results: Overall, participants showed adequate nutrition knowledge. However, eating behaviour was strongly influenced by both social factors (e.g. child food preferences and cultural food habits), and physical environmental factors (e.g. temptations in the local food environment). Perceived barriers for healthy eating behaviour included poor mental health, financial stress, and high food prices. Participants had a generally conscious attitude towards their financial situation, reflected in their strategies to cope with a limited budget. Food insecurity was mostly mentioned in reference to the past or to others and not to participants' own current experiences. Participants were familiar with several existing resources to reduce food-related financial strain (e.g. debt assistance) and generally had a positive attitude towards these resources. An exception was the Food Bank, of which the food parcel content was not well appreciated. Proposed interventions to reduce food-related financial strain included distributing free meals, facilitating social contacts, increasing healthy food supply in the neighbourhood, and lowering prices of healthy foods. Conclusion: The insights from this study increase understanding of factors influencing eating behaviour of people at risk of food insecurity. Therefore, this study could inform future development of potential interventions aiming at helping people at risk of experiencing food insecurity to improve healthy eating, thereby decreasing the risk of diet-related diseases.

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Keywords Barriers, Children, Eating behaviour, Financial stress, Food environment, Food insecurity, Health, Healthy eating, Mental health
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Journal International Journal for Equity in Health
Van Der Velde, L.A. (Laura A.), Schuilenburg, L.A. (Linde A.), Thrivikraman, J.K. (Jyothi K.), Numans, M.E, & Kiefte-de Jong, J.C. (2019). Needs and perceptions regarding healthy eating among people at risk of food insecurity: A qualitative analysis. International Journal for Equity in Health, 18(1). doi:10.1186/s12939-019-1077-0