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Despite the benefits of fruit and vegetable intake, many young Americans do not consume them at adequate levels. The present study sought to determine the beliefs that children have about asking their parents to have fruits and vegetables available at home in order to better understand the role children may play in influencing their own fruit and vegetable consumption.
An instrument utilizing the Reasoned Action Approach, with closed-ended questions on demographic and behavioural variables and open-ended questions eliciting the belief structure underlying asking parents to make fruits and vegetables available, was distributed. Thematic and frequency analyses were performed for open-ended questions. Statistical analyses were conducted to assess differences between children who had v. had not asked for fruits and vegetables.
Three middle schools in rural Indiana, USA.
A sub-sample of sixty students aged 12–15 years from a larger study of 344 students.
Qualitative analysis identified benefits (i.e. make me healthier; make parents happy), disadvantages (i.e. will upset my parents) and strategies (i.e. asking when you are at the store) that could be used to improve fruit and vegetable intake. Findings also revealed that students who asked their parents for fruits and vegetables were significantly more likely to perform several healthy eating and physical activity behaviours.
Data suggest that young people's view of parental reactions is critical. While additional research is necessary, the findings support a role for children in shaping their own environment and suggest multilevel interventions that simultaneously address parents and children.
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