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Demographic Relationships to Students’ Fruit and Vegetable Intake

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Fruit and vegetable (FV) intake remains inadequate in youth and differs across demographic subgroups. We examined relationships between student demographic characteristics and amounts of fresh FV selected, consumed, and wasted at school lunch.


Randomly selected students (N = 294) at 3 middle schools participated. Weights (g) of FV selected and wasted were measured. School-cluster adjusted regressions examined the association between student demographics and dependent variables. Two-way interactions were explored.


No significant differences were found for student demographics on FV selected, consumed, or wasted. An interaction between free/reduced-price lunch status (SES) and sex of student on FV consumed was significant (omnibus p-value = .01). In probing the interaction, girls eligible for free/reduced-price lunch ate less than girls paying full price (83.9 versus 109.1 g). For boys the interaction reversed: boys paying full price ate less than boys eligible for free/reduced-price lunch on average (73.3 g vs 96.8 g).


Demographics did not relate to objective FV consumption at lunch. Further analysis revealed a sex by SES interaction. These findings contradict previous literature mainly focused on children’s self-reported FV intake. Results may inform interventions aiming for equitable improvements in FV intake.
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Keywords: fruit; lunch; school health; social determinants; vegetables

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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