Adolescence is a critical period characterized by physical, social and developmental changes that impact on health and eating behavior. Indonesia is experiencing dramatic economic and infrastructural changes, causing greater access to the global food industry and media. This transition is influencing food intake trends, leading to new nutritional challenges in adolescent girls. Qualitative research was conducted between November 2016 and January 2017 in five urban sites in Java, Indonesia to examine individual, social, environmental and macrosystem factors affecting snacking behaviors in unmarried adolescent girls 16‐19 years of age.
Methods entailed 30 freelisting exercises, nine key informant interviews, and 16 in‐depth interviews. Freelisting results identified over 200 snack foods, with the most salient processed convenience foods such as chips and cookies. Respondents typically snacked multiple times daily. Widespread availability of affordable and “tasty” snacks makes snack foods appealing meal substitutes. Snacks provide a distraction to boredom and loneliness and an enhancement to social gatherings. Girls exhibited limited understanding or concern about potential negative effects of snacking. Parents facilitate acquisition of nutrient‐poor snacks, while friends exert pressure for routine consumption of snack foods. Social media infiltrated with promotions of eateries and snack foods is likely contributing to the preponderance of snack food consumption. Routine consumption of snack foods high in sugar, salt and fat and skipping meals will likely have long‐term consequences on the nutritional status and health of Indonesian adolescent girls. This in‐depth study provided context‐specific information for a social media campaign designed to motivate girls to follow healthier snacking practices.