Objective: The aim of the present study was to investigate whether fruit and vegetables should be treated as separate groups in health promotion programmes by examining consumption levels, barriers, knowledge and the association between stage of change and potential predictors of fruit and vegetable intake. Design: Computer-assisted telephone interview survey of the target population. Setting: Hunter and New England regions of New South Wales, Australia. Subjects: A total of 1403 parents and carers of primary-school-aged children. Results: Consumption levels and knowledge of recommended intakes and serving size were greater for fruit than for vegetables. There were some differences in the main barriers to the consumption of fruit compared with those cited for vegetables. There was little congruence between the stages of change for fruit consumption and those for vegetable consumption. For fruit, knowledge of serving size and recommended intake, perceptions of adequate consumption, changes made to family intake and educational attainment were all correlated with stage of change categorisation. For vegetables, knowledge of recommended intake, perceptions of adequate consumption and changes made to family intake were correlated with stage of change categorisation. Conclusions: Significant differences in consumption levels, barriers, knowledge and stages of readiness for change can be shown when fruit and vegetables are treated as separate groups. Health promotion planners may need to consider interventions that focus on improving vegetable consumption in preference to fruit consumption. Messages about the recommended number of servings and serving size must be simplified and this may be achieved by targeting messages towards vegetable consumption.
Public Health Nutrition Vol. 14, Issue 4, p. 694-701