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


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


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.


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.


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