Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Fruit and vegetable availability: a micro environmental mediating variable?

Russell Jagoa1 c1, Tom Baranowskia2 and Janice C Baranowskia2

a1 Department of Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, Centre for Exercise & Health, University of Bristol, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TP, UK

a2 Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, 1100 Bates Street, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Abstract

Objectives To examine the association between fruit and vegetable (F&V) availability and consumption, the possible influences on this association, research gaps, and implications for developing strategies to increase F&V consumption.

Design Systematic review of studies that have examined associations between F&V availability and consumption.

Results Qualitative studies conducted among children and adults indicated that greater availability was associated with greater consumption. This finding was supported by cross-sectional studies among children. Availability was associated with dietary psychosocial variables such as preferences, and it appears that availability may moderate the relationship between these psychosocial variables and consumption. Intervention studies attempting to increase availability have resulted in increased consumption, and availability has predicted change in consumption over an 18-month period.

Discussion Availability appears to be a key proximal determinant of consumption, especially of F&V, and thereby provides a target for change. However, the mechanisms that relate these variables are unclear and there is a need to clarify the direction of causality. We suggest that the possible causal mechanisms may include: (1) availability simply facilitates increased consumption; (2) the visual cues of available food may stimulate consumption; and (3) available food exposure may increase preference, which leads to increased consumption. Each of these possibilities requires close examination, as do policy-level interventions.

Conclusion F&V availability is associated with increased consumption. Research that elucidates the mechanisms between availability and intake, and tests policy-level interventions, is needed to advance increased availability as a public health procedure.

(Received March 22 2006)

(Accepted October 31 2006)

(Online publication February 20 2007)

Correspondence

c1 *Corresponding author: Email Russ.Jago@bris.ac.uk

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