Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Perceived access to fruits and vegetables associated with increased consumption

Erin M Caldwella1 c1, M Miller Kobayashia1, WM DuBowa1 and SM Wytincka1

a1 National Research Center, Inc., 3005 30th Street, Boulder, CO 80303, USA


Objective To examine the association between fruit and vegetable access in the community and change in fruit and vegetable consumption among participants in community-based health promotion programmes.

Design Fruit and vegetable consumption and perceived access to fresh fruit and vegetables were measured by self-administered questionnaires at programme start, end and 1-year follow-up. Community produce availability was determined by grocery store assessments measuring the display space devoted to fruit and vegetable offerings, as well as price, variety and freshness. A total of nine communities were studied; 130 participants completed the fruit and vegetable portions of the questionnaires and could be linked to grocery store assessments.

Results Participants made modest but significant increases in fruit and vegetable consumption from programme start to end: the average increase was 2·88 (95 % CI 1·52, 4·25) servings weekly; the average increase from start to follow-up was 2·52 (95 % CI 1·09, 3·95) servings weekly. Greater perceived access to fruits and vegetables was significantly associated with higher increases in fruit and vegetable consumption from programme start to programme end. Greater availability of produce was associated with greater increases in fruit and vegetable servings from programme start to programme end as measured by store assessments.

Conclusions Environmental factors, such as access to fruits and vegetables, can modify the effects of community interventions. Interventions with the goal of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption should consider focusing on increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables in target communities. Similarly, researchers may want to study access as an intervention, not just a contextual variable.

(Received April 08 2008)

(Accepted October 28 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Email