The ‘TWEENS’ Tribe

Who are they and why are they important to the I Family Study?

‘Tweens’ boys and girls aged 10 to 12 – no longer ‘kids’ but not yet teenagers – face many challenges during this transition time. Increasing independence and exposure to behaviours outside family control, approaching puberty and changing educational demands make this an exciting yet demanding time, not only for the ‘Tweens’ themselves but also for their families.

During this transition time there is potential for established healthy lifestyle and dietary habits to be set aside and to be overtaken by habits that may limit healthy life expectancy. Alternatively, ‘Tweens’ increasing development of individuality and independence can see them adopt ‘healthier’ habits than before.

Changes in these habits may be driven by peer pressure, exposure to issues and information in school, or by the direct marketing efforts via TV, mobiles and internet of food, music and other retailers who target this age group specifically as they have money to spend.

This is why a major focus of the EC funded I Family project and its 15 research teams in 11 countries across Europe is on this age group, often neglected in research studies and analysis.

‘Tweens’ make up the largest group of individuals that will be studied by I.Family, building as it does on the family cohort developed by the IDEFICS research programme when children were aged 10 or under.

I Family will re-assess these children and their families – identifying families and individuals that have adopted and maintained a healthy lifestyle and approach to food, eating habits and lifestyles and those that have not. Family, environment, social, behavioural and genetic factors will all be examined and drawn together to identify reasons behind the adoption of healthy and unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits.

The overall aim is to help not only policy-makers shape advice and support that is of practical benefit to professionals, but also to families who may be helped to establish ground rules that will lead to the enjoyment of a longer, healthier life.

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