Perceived social-ecological factors associated with fruit and vegetable purchasing, preparation, and consumption among young adults.

Research paper by Dan J DJ Graham, Jennifer E JE Pelletier, Dianne D Neumark-Sztainer, Katherine K Lust, Melissa N MN Laska

Indexed on: 21 Aug '13Published on: 21 Aug '13Published in: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Most young adults do not consume recommended levels of fruits and vegetables (F/V), and interventions to increase F/V-related behaviors among this understudied population are needed. Therefore, it is important to identify correlates of F/V intake among young adults to guide intervention development. This cross-sectional study used data from an online survey to identify factors related to young adults' F/V purchasing, preparation, and consumption, and to explore between-factor relationships using mediation analysis. In 2010, 1,201 college students in Minnesota completed questionnaires assessing F/V behaviors as well as perceptions of F/V-related individual, social, and environmental factors. Factor analysis identified questionnaire items assessing similar constructs. Seven factors were identified (personal barriers, F/V knowledge, family, friends, neighborhood, access barriers, and campus) and evaluated for relationships with F/V purchasing, preparation, and consumption using linear regression. Results revealed that perceived personal barriers (eg, lacking cooking skills) were inversely related to all F/V outcomes. Perception that family and friends eat healthfully and neighborhood access to F/V were positively related to all outcomes. Individual-, social-, and environment-level perceptions were related to purchasing, preparation, and consumption, and the effects of these factors were similar when accounting for mediated effects. Factors at all three levels and the ways in which these various factors operate together may be important to consider in future efforts to improve F/V behaviors among young adults.