Correlates of fruit and vegetable intake among adolescents: Findings from Project EAT

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Melanie Wall, Cheryl Perry, Mary Story

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

417 Scopus citations


Background. This study aims to identify correlates of fruits and vegetables from within the domains of personal factors (taste preferences, health/nutrition attitudes, weight/body concerns, and self-efficacy), behavioral factors (meal frequency, fast food intake, and weight control behaviors), and socio-environmental factors (social support for healthy eating, family meal patterns, food security, socio-economic status, and home availability of fruits/vegetables). This study further aims to identify correlates of home availability and taste preferences for fruits/vegetables, and to explore patterns of interaction between availability and taste preferences. Methods. The population included 3957 adolescents from 31 public middle and high schools in Minnesota. Structural equation modeling was used for model testing. Results. The strongest correlates of fruit/vegetable intake were home availability of fruits/vegetables and taste preferences of fruits/vegetables. The final model explained 13% of the variance in fruit/vegetable intake, 45% of the variance in home availability, and 28% of the variance in taste preferences. Correlates of home availability included social support for healthy eating, family meal patterns, family food security, and socio-economic status. Correlates of taste preferences included health/nutrition attitudes and home availability of fruits/vegetables. A test of interaction effects indicated that when home availability of fruits/vegetables was low, intake patterns did not differ, regardless of taste preferences. In contrast, even when taste preferences for fruits/vegetables were low, if fruits/vegetables were available, intake increased. Conclusions. Interventions to increase fruit/vegetable intake in adolescents need to target socio-environmental factors such as greater availability of fruits/vegetables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-208
Number of pages11
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003


  • Adolescents
  • Behavior
  • Diet
  • Fruits
  • Nutrition
  • Psychosocial
  • Vegetables


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