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Fruit and Vegetable Intake Correlates During the Transition to Young Adulthood

      Background

      During the transition from adolescence to young adulthood, the intake of fruit and vegetables tends to decline, and national survey data indicate that few young adults consume the recommended amounts. This study aimed to identify longitudinal correlates of follow-up fruit and vegetable intake in early young adulthood.

      Methods

      Surveys and food frequency questionnaires were completed by 1495 adolescent participants in high school classrooms at baseline (in 1998–1999; mean age=15.9 years, SD=0.8) and by mail at follow-up (in 2003–2004; mean age=20.4 years, SD=0.8). In 2007, linear regression methods were used to identify baseline factors associated with follow-up fruit and vegetable intake.

      Results

      Baseline taste preferences, perceived benefits of healthy eating, fast-food intake, time spent watching television, family-meal frequency, and home food availability were correlates of both fruit and vegetable intake during young adulthood across gender. After adjusting for baseline intake, the only correlate of both fruit and vegetable intake during young adulthood across gender was taste preferences.

      Conclusions

      The findings suggest that nutrition interventions for adolescents should provide opportunities for them to taste more fruit and vegetables, and should address supports for healthy eating both within and outside the home environment.
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