The barriers and enablers to achieving adequate calcium intake in young adults: a qualitative study using focus groups
Rouf et al., JHND Early View
Despite the established benefits of calcium consumption, many young Australians are not meeting the recommendations for calcium intake. This is concerning because an adequate calcium consumption is important throughout young adulthood to reach peak bone mass and for the prevention of osteoporosis. Therefore, the present study aimed to explore the barriers and enablers to consuming calcium‐rich foods with young adults.
Using a semi‐structured question guide, five focus group discussions were conducted with 39 participants [mean (SD) age 22.5 (1.8) years]. Participants were mostly females (n = 29) and enrolled in tertiary education (n = 31). A deductive approach was used to group common ideas into themes. The findings from the focus groups were analysed using the COM‐B framework, which examines the interactions between three key components (i.e. capability, opportunity and motivation).
On examining the young adults’ capability to consume a diet adequate in calcium, it was found that young adults had limited knowledge of sources, prevention of disease and recommended amounts. Some participants voiced physical barriers to consumption (lactose intolerance). Opportunity was reported as a physical (availability of calcium‐rich foods), financial and social opportunity. Some participants reported motivation to include dairy as a result of the habit becoming engrained during their childhood under parental influence (automatic motivation), whereas others reflected on a lack of awareness relating to inadequacy and health consequences (reflective motivation).
Although social media was seen to be an acceptable mode of intervention, concerns were raised about the source and credibility of the information. The findings may inform the development of future interventions targeting eating habits of young adults.