A19. A study to determine actual consumption, awareness of health benefits and factors influencing fruit and vegetable consumption in first‐year undergraduate students

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Abstract:

Background Research has revealed that there is a key role for fruit and vegetables in a healthy diet. However, adult consumers in the UK fall short of the WHO (1990) Recommendations of ’five portions’ (400g) a day. The precursors of nutritionally related adult diseases such as CHD, Stroke and Cancer are frequently established during childhood and adolescents ( Horwarth, 1991).

Aims The aim of this study was to gain an insight into student attitudes, beliefs and the factors influencing fruit and vegetable consumption.

Methods In order to achieve this it was necessary to construct a questionnaire including a variety of styles of questions on food frequency, knowledge, attitudes and students’ background.

Results The results show that less than 20% of the students studied achieved the WHO (1990) recommendations. Out of the students studied, 90% of the students were aware of health benefits to consuming fruit and vegetables. However 54% of the students underestimated how much fruit and vegetables were recommended to produce benefits. Intakes for 46% of the students studied had reduced since coming to University, whereas 33% had managed to maintain what they consumed at home.

In the study fruit and vegetable intake was not associated with price, perceived as something for girls only, cooking skills, suitability of fruit as a snack food, taste preferences and availability. Health benefits and fruit and vegetables consumption at home prior to coming to University were significant factors associated with intake.

There was no significant relationship between intake of fruit and vegetables with personal income, course of study, frequency of visits to the shops and gender. However there was a significant relationship between consumption and where in the country they had come from. Those coming from the south of the country consumed more than their counterparts coming from the north.

Conclusions The results suggest that students leaving home to cater for themselves are strongly influenced by practices at home. There was also a significant difference in intake between students coming from the south than the north, this is supported by Anderson et al. (1994) and MAFF (1996). The findings are important when considering students as targets for Health Promotion Campaigns as though they no longer live at home they continue to be influenced by practices established at home.

Document Type: Abstract

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-277x.2000.00001-20.x

Affiliations: Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds

Publication date: October 1, 2000

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