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Family And Friend Influences On Fruit And Vegetable Intake In Elementary Aged Children

B. Helsel, Jessica Liang, Joel E Williams, S. Griffin, H. Spitler
Published 2019 · Psychology, Medicine

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the eating behaviors and social cognitive factors that affect fruit and vegetable consumption. Strategies to change, pros & cons, enjoyment, family support, and peer influence were measured in children ages 8–10 years both pre- and post- Zest Quest® program (pre: n = 82; post: n = 80). Children for a comparison group were selected from comparable elementary schools and pre- and post- measures were evaluated (pre: n = 92; post: n = 87). Chi-squared analyses were conducted on individual measures and Spearman correlations & linear regression were used for composite variables with fruit and vegetable consumption as the dependent variable. Results from the study demonstrated significant moderate correlations for fruit change strategies pre- (rs = 0.39) and post-intervention (rs = 0.33) and vegetable change strategies pre-intervention (rs = 0.42) in the Zest Quest® group. Peer influence (rs = 0.33) and enjoyment (rs = 0.38) showed significant moderate correlations with fruit intake in the comparison group. The regression analysis showed pros (β = 0.24, p value 0.05) and cons (β = 0.14, p value 0.05) to be significant predictors for fruit intake post-intervention in the Zest Quest® group. Prior to the intervention, strategies to change (β = 0.10, p value 0.02) was a significant predictor for fruit intake and cons (β = 0.15, p value = 0.03) for vegetable intake in this group. Family support and peer influence were not significant in the regression models, but demonstrated significance in the crude model. Eating behaviors and social cognitive factors may have an effect on fruit and vegetable consumption, but these measures are difficult to capture. Future research should continue exploring the impact of family support and peer influence on fruit and vegetable intake.
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