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Vegetable consumption among university students

Relationship between vegetable intake, knowledge of recommended vegetable servings and self-assessed achievement of vegetable intake recommendations

To investigate the relationship between vegetable intake, knowledge of recommended vegetable servings and self-assessed achievement of the vegetable intake recommendations.

Design and Setting:
Cross-sectional nutritional study in a university setting.

Students answered a set of standardised questions. Vegetable intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Knowledge of recommended vegetable servings was determined by asking how many servings of vegetables should be part of the daily diet. Self-assessed achievement of vegetable recommendation was operationalised using the behavioural stages of the Health Action Process Approach (HAPA).

Mean vegetable intake was 176 ± 165 g/d for women and 179 ± 153 g/d for men. Overall, 7.3% of women and 9.8% of men achieved the recommended vegetable intake. Recommended vegetable servings were correctly identified by 68.5% of women and 47.1% of men. 34.1% of women and 23.5% of men believed they could achieve the recommended intake of vegetables. However, of these only 18.7 % and 33.3 % actually achieved the recommended intake. These students did not differ with respect to their knowledge of recommended vegetable servings from those who stated they achieved the recommended intake but in fact did not.

Our study identified a potential target group who did not know that their vegetable intake was below the recommended level. It may be concluded that students have difficulty correctly estimating amounts of vegetables. From a health promotion perspective, this creates the need for the practice-oriented communication of dietary recommendations.

Carina Teschl, Carolin Nössler, Melanie Schneider, Anja Carlsohn and Petra Lührmann Institute of Health Sciences, University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany

Health Education Journal, DOI 10.1177/0017896917751833