Psychosocial determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption among students in a New Zealand university. Results of focus group interviews.

Research paper by Hilde H Hartman, Daniel P DP Wadsworth, Suzi S Penny, Patricia P van Assema, Rachel R Page

Indexed on: 19 Feb '13Published on: 19 Feb '13Published in: Appetite


The '5+ a day' fruit and vegetable servings recommendation was introduced in New Zealand in 1994, but consumption has remained low in young adults ever since. This study aimed to identify psychosocial determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption among New Zealand university students approximately a decade after the guidelines' introduction. Twenty-nine students, aged 18-24 years, took part in focus group interviews. Important determinants included taste and health awareness/knowledge. Flatmates and partners had the greatest social influence. Cost and availability were major barriers to consumption. To improve consumption participants suggested: cooking sessions providing quick/easy recipes; more-varied nutritional information; 'made-to-measure' interventions; increasing awareness of cheap sources of fruit/vegetables; and increasing campus availability of fruit. Determinants including a negative attitude, a lack of self-efficacy and an unawareness of dietary guidelines/health consequences should be considered when developing interventions for this group, whilst a variety of different delivery channels should be used. Participants in the study were not representative of all university students, who generally have a different lifestyle to other young adults and specific determinants for fruit/vegetable consumption. Consequently, additional research is required among other young adults and university students with lower fruit and vegetable intake, so that promotional strategies can be specifically targeted.