Fruit and vegetable consumption and self-efficacy for consuming fruits and vegetables in middle school students
Young, Elizabeth M.
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Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with a decreased risk for several cancers and cardiovascular disease. The prevalence of these chronic diseases and the impact of childhood eating patterns on adult risk provides the rationale for developing healthy eating habits in childhood. Despite a decade long campaign to increase Americans' fruit and vegetable consumption, American children and adolescents still do not consume the recommended amounts. This study examined the relationships between parental and demographic factors and fruit and vegetable intake and self-efficacy for eating fruits and vegetables in middle school students from two counties in northeast Georgia. Data were collected from 366 sixth through eighth grade students from three schools. The survey instrument was composed of a few demographic questions and seven scales related to parenting style, the student's self-efficacy for eating fruits and vegetables, fruit and vegetable availability in the home, and the student's fruit and vegetable intake. Simple correlations were utilized to examine the relationships between the measures. Multiple regression and analysis of variance were used to determine the extent to which the independent variables explained the variation in the dependent variables. Female students compared to male students with higher socioeconomic status had higher self-efficacy. Male students compared to female students and eighth grade students compared to sixth grade students had a stronger positive relationship between self-efficacy and intake. Parent modeling, fruit and vegetable availability, and selfefficacy had a direct positive impact on fruit and vegetable intake. Authoritative parenting, parent support, and fruit and vegetable availability had a direct positive influence on self-efficacy for eating fruits and vegetables. Parent modeling and parent support had a direct positive effect on fruit and vegetable availability. The addition of both fruit and vegetable availability and self-efficacy for eating fruits and vegetables into the model increased the predictive capacity of the model, but the proportion of variance unexplained was sizable. Results of this study indicate the need for increased attention to parental influences, self-efficacy, and availability. Health promotion and nutrition professionals should consider these influences in order to develop interventions that are the most responsive to students' needs.