Social Cognitive Model of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Elementary School Children

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Medical Nutrition | Medicine and Health Sciences


Fruit and vegetable consumption is related to reduced risk for certain forms of cancer. Health organizations recommend the increased consumption of fruit and vegetables. Despite these recommendations, few U.S. children eat the recommended number of at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Understanding the determinants of consumption might improve our ability to increase consumption. Few theory-based models have been developed to explain and predict the consumption of various foods by children. This study proposed a model to explain fruit and vegetable consumption in children based on Social Cognitive Theory and on the literature in nutrition education. The model was tested using structural equation modeling techniques. Data from 414 third-graders were gathered on five predictors including availability, modeling, nutrition education, motivation (i.e., self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, food preferences), and knowledge. The proposed model was tested with two random splits of the data and also separately for males and females. Results indicate adequate fit of the models for each of the four data sets (split 1, split 2, males, females). The pattern of significant paths was similar across the data sets. Availability and motivation (i.e., self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, food preference) were most consistently related to consumption and to other constructs in the model.

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© 1999 Society for Nutrition Education

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