Public Health Nutrition

Interventions

Fruit and vegetables should be targeted separately in health promotion programmes: differences in consumption levels, barriers, knowledge and stages of readiness for change

Colleen Glassona1, Kathy Chapmana1 c1 and Erica Jamesa2

a1 Nutrition Unit, The Cancer Council NSW, PO Box 572, Kings Cross, New South Wales 1340, Australia

a2 Centre for Health Research and Psycho-oncology, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia

Abstract

Objective The aim of the present study was to investigate whether fruit and vegetables should be treated as separate groups in health promotion programmes by examining consumption levels, barriers, knowledge and the association between stage of change and potential predictors of fruit and vegetable intake.

Design Computer-assisted telephone interview survey of the target population.

Setting Hunter and New England regions of New South Wales, Australia.

Subjects A total of 1403 parents and carers of primary-school-aged children.

Results Consumption levels and knowledge of recommended intakes and serving size were greater for fruit than for vegetables. There were some differences in the main barriers to the consumption of fruit compared with those cited for vegetables. There was little congruence between the stages of change for fruit consumption and those for vegetable consumption. For fruit, knowledge of serving size and recommended intake, perceptions of adequate consumption, changes made to family intake and educational attainment were all correlated with stage of change categorisation. For vegetables, knowledge of recommended intake, perceptions of adequate consumption and changes made to family intake were correlated with stage of change categorisation.

Conclusions Significant differences in consumption levels, barriers, knowledge and stages of readiness for change can be shown when fruit and vegetables are treated as separate groups. Health promotion planners may need to consider interventions that focus on improving vegetable consumption in preference to fruit consumption. Messages about the recommended number of servings and serving size must be simplified and this may be achieved by targeting messages towards vegetable consumption.

(Received May 12 2009)

(Accepted April 23 2010)

(Online publication June 25 2010)

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Email kathyc@nswcc.org.au

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