Correlates of fruit and vegetable intake among adolescents. Findings from Project EAT.
BACKGROUND: This study aims to identify correlates of fruits and vegetables from within the domains of personal factors (taste preferences, health/nutrition attitudes, weight/body concerns, and self-efficacy), behavioral factors (meal frequency, fast food intake, and weight control behaviors), and socio-environmental factors (social support for healthy eating, family meal patterns, food security, socio-economic status, and home availability of fruits/vegetables). This study further aims to identify correlates of home availability and taste preferences for fruits/vegetables, and to explore patterns of interaction between availability and taste preferences. METHODS: The population included 3957 adolescents from 31 public middle and high schools in Minnesota. Structural equation modeling was used for model testing. RESULTS: The strongest correlates of fruit/vegetable intake were home availability of fruits/vegetables and taste preferences of fruits/vegetables. The final model explained 13% of the variance in fruit/vegetable intake, 45% of the variance in home availability, and 28% of the variance in taste preferences. Correlates of home availability included social support for healthy eating, family meal patterns, family food security, and socio-economic status. Correlates of taste preferences included health/nutrition attitudes and home availability of fruits/vegetables. A test of interaction effects indicated that when home availability of fruits/vegetables was low, intake patterns did not differ, regardless of taste preferences. In contrast, even when taste preferences for fruits/vegetables were low, if fruits/vegetables were available, intake increased. CONCLUSIONS: Interventions to increase fruit/vegetable intake in adolescents need to target socio-environmental factors such as greater availability of fruits/vegetables.
Neumark-Sztainer, D; Wall, M; Perry, C; Story, M
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