Predictors of Fruit and Vegetable Intake in Young Adulthood

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Few young adults meet national recommendations to consume at least 2 c fruit and 2 to 3 c vegetables daily. Effective strategies and messaging are needed to address this disparity, but research examining influences on fruit and vegetable (F/V) intake during young adulthood has been limited and primarily cross-sectional. This study was conducted to identify 5-year and 10-year longitudinal predictors of F/V intake in young adulthood. The sample included 476 male and 654 female participants enrolled in a population-based cohort study (Projects EAT-I, II, and III [Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults]). Participants completed surveys and food frequency questionnaires in Minneapolis/St Paul, MN, high school classrooms in 1998-1999 (mean age=15.8 years, adolescence) and follow-up measures in 2003-2004 (mean age=20.4 years, emerging adulthood) and 2008-2009 (mean age=26.2 years, young adulthood). In young adulthood, average daily intake was 0.9 servings of fruit (excluding juice) and 1.8 servings of vegetables (excluding potatoes). Factors examined in adolescence and in emerging adulthood that were predictive of F/V intake in young adulthood included favorable taste preferences, fewer perceived time barriers to healthy eating, higher home availability of F/V, and limited home availability of unhealthy foods. Analyses also identified additional factors that were specifically relevant to fruit (eg, breakfast patterns) or vegetable intake (eg, home food preparation) and of particular relevance during emerging adulthood (eg, significant other's healthy eating attitudes). Findings suggest individual and socioenvironmental factors, particularly food preferences and home food availability, during adolescence and emerging adulthood may influence F/V intake in young adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1216-1222
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
FUNDING/SUPPORT This study was supported by grant no. R01HL084064 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . Additional salary support for M. N. Laska was provided by the National Cancer Institute (award no. K07CA126837). The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Cancer Institute.


  • Adolescents
  • Fruit
  • Longitudinal
  • Vegetables
  • Young adults


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