Why people don’t eat fruits and vegetables: insight from participants who enrolled in MENU [poster] Conference Poster uri icon
  • Background: In order to develop effective dietary interventions, public health researchers need to better understand the reasons people do not to eat the recommended minimum servings of fruits and vegetables (F&V).
    Methods: Adults were recruited from five U.S. health plans in Washington, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Georgia and enrolled in an online dietary intervention study designed to increase F&V consumption (MENU). Prior to the intervention, 2,513 eligible participants completed a baseline questionnaire assessing demographics and other information relevant for tailoring the intervention content, including perceived barriers to eating F&V. Participants also indicated if they were currently trying to eat more F&V or not. We compared groups who were (n= 849) and were not (n = 1651) trying to increase F&V intake at baseline, to examine if there were distinguishing characteristics which would help inform future intervention development targeted at individuals not trying to change their diet.
    Results: Compared to persons trying to change their diet, those not trying to change were more likely to be male (P = .05), younger (45.9 years vs. 47.1 years, P=.01), and a higher mean BMI (29.5 vs. 27.1, p<.001). Groups did not differ by education or race. Statistically significant differences were observed across most perceived barriers for eating both fruits and vegetables (assessed separately for each). The greatest differences (p<.001) were seen for the following perceptions: that F&V go bad too quickly, they do not satisfy hunger, were not available in their homes, cost, concerns about preparation time, and participants did not know how to add more servings of each to their diet. In all cases, persons who were not trying to change their diets rated these as more significant barriers.
    Conclusions: The results suggest that persons who are not actively trying to change their diet differ from people who are actively trying to eat healthy. Many of these differences may be modifiable through appropriate education and training. Others, such as the expense of F&V, may be modifiable at an environmental level by public policy makers. The insight gained from this study may help inform future intervention studies designed to effect important dietary changes.

  • publication date
  • 2009
  • Research
  • Behavior Change
  • Diet
  • Food
  • Health Education
  • Health Policy
  • Obesity