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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Increasing vegetable consumption in adolescents

item Johnston, Craig
item Stansberry, Sandra
item Tyler, Chermaine
item Reeves, Rebecca
item Foreyt, John

Submitted to: North American Association for the Study of Obesity
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2009
Publication Date: 11/1/2009
Citation: Johnston, C.A., Stansberry, S., Tyler, C., Reeves, R., Foreyt, J.P. 2009. Increasing vegetable consumption in adolescents [abstract]. North American Association for the Study of Obesity. 17(Suppl.2):S181.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Studies have demonstrated that diets rich in vegetables may protect against many chronic diseases and overweight. Despite these benefits, consumption in children and adolescents is well below recommended levels. Finding methods to increase vegetable consumption in adolescents is important. Our objective was to compare two methods of increasing vegetable consumption in adolescents deemed "vegetable resistant". Participants were taken from a larger weight management intervention where they received nutrition education. They were provided with opportunities to sample both commonly eaten and novel, raw vegetables throughout the intervention. A total of 77 adolescents between the ages of 11 and 13 were randomized to a vegetable with peanut butter (VPB) condition or a vegetable only (VO) group. Analyses were conducted on “vegetable resistant” (VR) (n = 38; 18 females, 47%) adolescents (i.e., reported eating no vegetables on a food frequency questionnaire at baseline). Participants in both conditions ate vegetables without accompaniments at baseline and received the same intervention. The difference between conditions was that VPB adolescents were allowed to sample their vegetables with peanut butter throughout the intervention and at the 6-month measurement. Peanut butter was chosen because of its acceptability and nutrient density. Changes in participants’ vegetable intake were examined from baseline to 6 months. Carrots, celery, and broccoli were offered during testing. At each time point, the amount of vegetables consumed was weighed (oz) and changes in variety of vegetables consumed were assessed. Our results indicated that a VPB participants designated VR demonstrated significant increases in vegetable consumption compared to VR participants in the VO condition (F = 16.98, p < .001). Specifically, the VPB condition significantly increased the amount of vegetables consumed (t = -5.70, p < .001), while the VO condition maintained their overall consumption (t = .77 p = ns). Similar patterns were found for variety of vegetables consumed (F = 18.95, p < .001). These findings demonstrate that offering peanut butter as an accompaniment to vegetables can significantly increase both intake and variety for children. Given that eating patterns in childhood track into adulthood, it is important that small changes, which can improve eating habits, be implemented.

Last Modified: 07/25/2017
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