Poster Topical Area: Nutrition Education and Behavioral Sciences

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 189

P18-021 - Exploring Elementary School-Aged Children’s Fruit and Vegetable Cognitions and Behaviors

Sunday, Jun 10
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Objective

To examine cognitions and behaviors of 6-to-11 year-olds' related to fruits and vegetables (F/V).

Methods

A survey was completed by 194 kids from 3 states (NJ, FL, WV). Of these children, 33 participated in focus group on F/Vs conducted by trained moderators. Two researchers coded and analyzed focus group data to identify trends and common themes.

Results

Survey results indicate children ate fruits more often than vegetables, averaging 4.74±2.56SD and 4.06±2.73SD days/week, respectively. Lunch and dinner was when kids most commonly ate the F/V they reported liking (apples, strawberries, broccoli, carrots). Focus group discussions revealed kids felt F/Vs were important to eat and demonstrated good knowledge of the benefits of F/Vs (helping bodies grow stronger, promoting good eyesight and healthy teeth, giving the body energy throughout the day). Children felt parents played a large role in influencing their F/V intake by encouraging kids to eat a variety of F/Vs for health and nutritional benefits. Kids reported their F/Vs preferences and tastes were similar to their parents and indicated they often shared F/Vs with them. If they observed parents eating F/Vs frequently, kids said they would try to eat F/Vs more often. Several children indicated that parents rewarded them for trying new F/Vs while others reported their parents forced them to eat F/Vs. Numerous barriers prevented kids from eating a variety of F/Vs often, such as disliking taste, texture, or preparation method, and lack of F/V accessibility and availability. To overcome barriers, kids wanted parents to incorporate more F/Vs into meals or snacks each day. Other strategies kids proposed were letting kids help prepare F/Vs, mixing F/Vs into other foods, serving F/Vs with meals, serving sauces or dips with F/Vs (caramel, peanut butter, salad dressing), cutting F/Vs into fun shapes, rewarding kids for eating F/Vs with food (candy/chips) and non-food items (money/toys), planting a vegetable garden, buying F/Vs kids prefer, and making F/Vs readily accessible and available in the home.

Conclusion

Future nutrition education programs should aim to help children learn effective strategies for incorporating more F/Vs into their diets and helping parents understand how kids can take an active role in improving their F/V intake.




Funding Source:

United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Grant Number 2017-680001-26351

CoAuthors: Elena Santiago – Rutgers University; Kaitlyn Eck – Rutgers University; Colleen Delaney – Rutgers University; Karla Shelnutt – University of Florida; Melissa Olfert – West Virginia University; Carol Byrd-Bredbenner – Rutgers University

Kaitlyn Eck

Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey