Can knowledge alone predict vegetable and fruit consumption among adolescents? A transtheoretical model perspective

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Abstract

Background

Nutrition clearly plays a role during adolescent development. Nutritional habits are not in line with the recommendations among adolescents. Food habits that are seen more frequently among teens than in other age groups include irregular consumption of meals, and eating away from home (especially fast-food venues). In addition, many young people do not eat enough fruits and vegetables (FVs).

Aim

We aimed at exploring the knowledge, attitude, and behavior toward FV consumption among adolescent Saudi girls, using a transtheoretical model (TTM).

Participants and methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted. The target group included adolescent girls aged 18–21 years, students at the Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences, at King Abdulaziz University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Of a total sample of 205 participants, 73 were in the Clinical Nutrition Department. FV consumption was assessed among the whole sample, using a Food Frequency questionnaire, and then the TTM determinants were assessed.

Results

The study detected significant differences between the two groups with regard to vegetable consumption. The most frequently reported stage of change in the nutrition department was action maintenance with regard to FV consumption; self-efficacy and pros were the most significant positive predictors for FV consumption, whereas the department type (determining knowledge) had a negligible effect. Finally, we detected that TTM determinants of FV intake and their stages of change clustered.

Conclusion and recommendations

Knowledge alone cannot predict FV intake in adolescent girls. TTM stages of change and determinants seem to be somewhat related in FV consumption. Therefore, an integrated dietary change approach for both FV consumption is recommended among adolescents.

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