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Social representations of healthy and unhealthy food built by Romanian and Canadian children

Cristina Grabovschi (Department of Family Medicine, University of Sherbrooke, Longueuil, Canada)
Milton N. Campos (Department of Communication, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 25 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to examine the social representations (SRs) of healthy and unhealthy food built by three groups of children from different cultural backgrounds. The main goal was to determine whether children's age and cultural background operated in the development of these representations.


This qualitative study was based on 45 individual semistructured interviews. In total, 45 children aged seven to 12 years from three different cultural backgrounds (French Canadians in Quebec, Canadians of Romanian origin, and children in Romania) were recruited using the snowball sampling technique. Interview transcripts were analysed and interpreted using a three-step method derived from theories on social representations.


SRs of healthy and unhealthy food underwent similar development processes in all groups according to children's ages. However, cultural context had an effect on the content and complexity of the representations, which were influenced by both culture and ideology.

Practical implications

The study confirms the importance of developing social campaigns on nutrition education and provides concrete evidence that could be used in conceiving more effective strategies in the field of nutrition education.


Original developmental and cross-cultural approach to the study of children's SRs of food and nutrition.



This paper originated from the doctoral research of the first author who was supported in part by fellowships from the University of Montreal (Sciences Humaines Appliquées and Faculté des études supérieureset postdoctorales). The authors would like to acknowledge and thank Donna Riley for editing the manuscript.


Grabovschi, C. and N. Campos, M. (2014), "Social representations of healthy and unhealthy food built by Romanian and Canadian children", British Food Journal, Vol. 116 No. 12, pp. 1931-1941.



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