Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Deborah Crooks

Abstract

The goal of this dissertation is to discuss relationships between the sociocultural environment and nutritional status outcomes in an urban industrialized city with high rates of poverty. The purpose is to highlight the complex web of factors shaping nutritional status outcomes and move beyond cause and effect approaches to nutrition in an environment where obesity is a central nutritional concern. To accomplish this goal, I examine a range of factors that relate to adolescent nutritional practices and nutritional status outcomes in a sample population of adolescents living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I discuss connections between social locations such as age, gender, geographic area, and socioeconomic status. I also highlight the range of nutritional status outcomes observed in the sample population, while examining broader social, political, and economic aspects of the lives of adolescents that differentially shape nutrition-related experiences in the city. Finally, I demonstrate that adolescents occupy a complex social location in which autonomy, advice, and influence from sociocultural and political-economic factors shape their diet and exercise practices and nutritional status outcomes in multi-faceted, and at times unexpected, ways. In doing so, I emphasize the benefits of a localized, rather than a globalized approach to nutritional concerns such as obesity.

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