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Phytochemicals as a motivational tool to change fruit, vegetable and whole grain consumption

by Miller, Lori B.

Abstract (Summary)
Lori B. Miller Writer Phytochemicals as a Motivational Tool to Change Fruit, Vegetable and Whole Grain Consumption Title Food Science and Nutrition Dr. Janice Coker October 2002 160 Graduate Major Research Advisor Month/Year No. of Pages Turabian, Kate L., Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations Style Manual Used in this Study The purpose of this study was to learn whether phytochemical knowledge has motivated some people to change their eating behavior and to consume more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The hypothesis tested a positive correlation between the seeking of nutrition information, food and health benefits, and a deliberate inclusion of plant-based foods into the diet. Population-based objectives included drawing a demographic profile, estimating the number who had increased consumption of plant foods, determining whether phytochemical awareness was the major intake change effecter, defining phytochemical understanding and expectations, and summarizing general health beliefs. Results were collected via a survey mailed nationally to 1,600 adults. The surveys were mailed randomly to a subset of people who subscribe to or buy consumer health magazines from Rodale Inc. iii Three hundred eighty individuals returned surveys; this population was largely female (82.6%), between 45-64 years of age (77.0%) and Caucasian (88.0%); had at least some post-secondary education (81.5%) and lived in households of two people or less (64.1%). The study population was older, more educated, and lived in smaller households than the full Rodale subscriber list. The results indicated that 82.9% of the subjects had begun eating more of at least one plant food group, either recently or years earlier. These subjects form the “more phyto” subgroup. Plant foods which showed the largest consumption increases were fruits (40.5%, in past 12 months) and vegetables (39.1%, years earlier). Dry beans, lentils, nuts and seeds were noted for consumption increases at some point in time by nearly half of these respondents. In contrast, consumption of bread, cereal, rice and pasta declined, with 34.8% of the “more phyto” subgroup eating less in the past 12 months. Intake changes were positively and significantly (p < .01) related to each other. With the exception of nuts and seeds, intake changes were also significantly (p < .01) and positively related to belief in matching food guidelines (i.e. “eat plenty of fruits and vegetables”). Of the “more phyto” subgroup, 20.2% reported increasing their plant food intake because of phytochemicals. These subjects form the “phyto motivated” subgroup. The results suggest that phytochemical motivation was positively and significantly (p < .05) correlated to increased intake of these foods. Significant positive relationships regarding information seeking and eating more phytochemicals included reading magazines (80.0%, p < .05) and consulting with medical professionals (62.5%, p < .01) for nutritional advice and hearing much about 5-A-Day, a national fruit-and-vegetable campaign (38.9%, p < .05). “Phyto motivated” subjects shared preference for these sources but relied more upon their own reading and research (22.6%, positive correlation, p < .01) and less upon professional medical advice (43.5%, negative correlation, p < .01). Significant positive relationships (p < .05) regarding food and health beliefs and eating more phytochemicals included placing importance on eating fruits/vegetables (81.3%) and fiber (81.3%) and on limiting meat intake (65.1%). A significant negative relationship was found with putting taste ahead of nutrition when selecting food (47.6% disagree, p < .05). “Phyto motivated” subjects also shared these beliefs plus placed importance on eating grain products (86.9%, p < .05), getting dietary fiber (93.1%, iv p < .01), and preventing disease through diet (98.4%, p < .01). Despite the importance placed on eating grain products, however, this population was eating fewer of these foods (34.8% “more phyto,” 39.3% “phyto motivated”). Applications of this study include making use of this population’s interest, vocabulary, and understanding of phytochemicals to effectively target public health or food industry messages. Nutrition educators and food industry professionals will need to overcome the plant food subgroups’ inclination to favor their own research over professional advice or public health campaigns. Other researchers could expand upon this project by (1) studying populations for belief/action discrepancies in whole grain intake, fiber intake, micronutrient intake, and diet/weight satisfaction and (2) tracking the marketing of nutraceuticals, especially during the current boom years. v
Bibliographical Information:

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School:Centro Universitário do Planalto de Araxá

School Location:Brazil

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:diet phytochemicals

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