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Predictors of Intention to Eat 2.5 Cups of Vegetables among Ninth-grade Students Attending Public High Schools in Eastern North Carolina

Pawlak, Roman, Malinauskas, Brenda
Journal of nutrition education and behavior 2008 v.40 no.6 pp. 392-398
food beliefs, peers, attitudes and opinions, serving size, health beliefs, high school students, public schools, food availability, adolescent nutrition, adolescents, food choices, vegetables, parental role, nutrition knowledge, North Carolina
Objective: To identify beliefs about eating 2.5 cups of vegetables and to assess how well these beliefs predict intention to eat them. Design: A survey based on the Theory of Planned Behavior. Setting: Two public high schools in 2 counties in eastern North Carolina. Participants: 157 ninth-grade students (mean age = 14.71 years [SD = 0.82]). Analysis: Regression analysis was performed to assess how well the variables of the Theory of Planned Behavior predicted behavioral intention to eat 2.5 cups of vegetables. Findings: Attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control predicted 77.2% of variance of intention to eat 2.5 cups of vegetables (F [3, 154] = 178.05, P < .001). Attitude was the strongest predictor (β = 0.434, P < .001), followed by subjective norms (β = 0.372, P < .001) and perceived behavioral control (β = 0.159, P < .021). Conclusions and Implications: Factors such as impact of parents and peers, availability of vegetables at home and in school, and making sure that vegetables offered to teens are tasty are important in increasing their intention to eat the recommended amount of vegetables. These factors could help education campaigns targeted toward teens be more successful.