3 years ago

Are young adults appreciating the health promotion messages on diet and exercise?

Emma Berry, Lorna Aucott, Amudha Poobalan



This study aims to determine if current health promotion messages relating to diet and physical activity are sufficiently targeted towards young adults. In addition, we examine what elements of these messages might be improved to ensure they encourage improved diet and exercise behaviours within this underserved group.

Subject and methods

Using qualitative methods, five focus group discussions (FGDs) and two semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted among 19 young adults in Aberdeen City. An appropriate topic guide was developed for this purpose. After obtaining consent, all FGDs and interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A thematic analysis was conducted that allowed for emerging themes to be identified from the data. Links between themes were established and key quotes identified.


Five major themes emerged: (1) exposure to health messages over time; (2) chains of healthy or unhealthy behaviours; (3) perceptions and attitudes towards health messages; (4) facilitators and barriers; (5) improving the usability of health messages.


The results demonstrate that young adults did not find current health promotion messages engaging. These messages did not support them in overcoming their perceived barriers, nor were they suitably formatted or located for them. There were suggestions from young adults on how to improve these messages including using social media, presenting messages in more usable forms, and working with larger corporations to make these messages more effective. Tailoring these messages specifically for young adults could improve their diet and exercise behaviours, thereby helping to reduce future obesity levels and co-morbidities within Scotland.

Open access
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