Most Western societies seem to have embarked on a runaway weight-gain train, equipped with too many accelerators and not enough brakes. Adolescents have been identified as a public health risk group in this area. To uncover youths' attitudes about their health lifestyle, with a focus on overweightness, we conducted a discourse analysis using Q-methodology. Female, Dutch youths between 12 and 15 years rank-ordered statements on issues like eating behaviour, overweightness, health risks, health perceptions and motivations/obstacles for adopting a healthier lifestyle. Q-factor analysis revealed five attitudes: "carefree sporty", "worrying dependent", "contended independent", "looks over content" and "indifferent solitary". The youths were all more or less uninterested in their own health but for different reasons. For most of these youths, neither current nor future health is of major concern, because they feel physically fit, are generally satisfied and happy, or simply do not care. Some are concerned about their eating behaviour due to the consequences it has on appearance, being physically unfit or overweight. Even so, this preoccupation with eating appears far from healthy. Only one of the five health lifestyle attitudes identified combines healthy eating and exercising behaviour. Most youths appear to have little knowledge and many questions regarding health and overweightness.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Adolescents, Attitude, Health lifestyle, Obesity, The Netherlands
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.06.028, hdl.handle.net/1765/70797
Journal Social Science & Medicine
Citation
van Exel, N.J.A, de Graaf, G, & Brouwer, W.B.F. (2006). "Everyone dies, so you might as well have fun!" Attitudes of Dutch youths about their health lifestyle. Social Science & Medicine, 63(10), 2628–2639. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.06.028