Young adults and the 5 a day campaign: perceived benefits and barriers of eating more fruits and vegetables
Herbert, G., Kennedy, O. , Lobb, A. and Butler, L. (2010) Young adults and the 5 a day campaign: perceived benefits and barriers of eating more fruits and vegetables. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 34 (6). pp. 657-664. ISSN 1470-6423
To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.1470-6431.2010.00872.x
Although consuming adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases, it is widely recognized that young adults’ intakes are currently well below the Department of Health’s recommended five portions a day, with men consuming even less than women. One approach in the UK has been to introduce health campaigns such as the 5 A DAY programme; however, little is currently known about how well their messages are understood amongst young adults. This study examined current knowledge of the 5 A DAY message in young adults, as well as the perceived benefits and remaining barriers towards consuming more fruits and vegetables. In total, four focus groups were conducted using male (n = 22) and female (n = 18) students at the University of Reading. Content analysis revealed that while participants were aware of the 5 A DAY recommendation, there was widespread confusion regarding the detail. In addition, men were less accepting of the message than women, reporting greater disbelief and a lack of motivation to increase intake. Finally, a range of barriers was reported by participants of both genders, despite the perceived beneficial effects for health and appearance. The results illustrate a considerable gap between awareness and knowledge of the 5 A DAY message, and underscore the challenge that changing behaviour in young adults represents. As well as stepping up education- and skill-based health campaigns, more targeted gender specific interventions will be needed to achieve sustained increases in fruit and vegetable intake.