Relationship between Home Availability of Fruit and Vegetables and Food Choice in 8 to 10 year old New Zealand Children
Background: The prevalence of obesity in New Zealand [NZ] has increased over recent years for both children and adults. Environments which children are frequently exposed to, stand as modifiable areas to shape healthier lifestyles. Existing studies have shown home food availability [HFA] of both healthy and unhealthy foods are associated with an increase in dietary intake in children. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between home fruit and vegetable availability, home fruit, fruit juice, and vegetable accessibility, and food choices in 8-10 year old New Zealanders.Methods: The Pre-Adolescent Cardio-Metabolic Associations and Correlates [PACMAC] study is a cross sectional study of 8-10 year old children from four major NZ cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin). Questionnaires were completed and provided relevant data for this thesis. The data analysed were question scores for the home availability of fruits and vegetables, home accessibility of fruit, fruit juice and vegetables, and weekly food consumption collected using food frequency questionnaires [FFQ]. Home food availability referred to foods present in the home and was analysed through six qualitative questions based on a five point scale. Home food accessibility referred to foods that were in a form or stored that facilitated consumption and was analysed through two dichotomous questions. Two independent variables were identified for statistical analysis. These were: (i) home fruit and vegetable availability, and (ii) home fruit, fruit juice, and vegetable accessibility. T-tests (two tailed; two sampled-equal variance) were used to statistically analyse relationships. Cohen’s d was used to measure effect size.Results: The total sample size of the study was 98. For the home fruit and vegetable availability variable, children who lived in homes with high availability had higher weekly consumption of the following foods: fruits (P = 0.019, d = 0.58), vegetables (P = <0.001, d = 0.93) and trim milk (P = 0.019, d = 0.49) in comparison to children who lived in homes with moderate-low availability. For the home fruit, fruit juice, and vegetable accessibility variable, children who lived in homes with high accessibility had higher weekly consumption of the following foods: fruit juice (P = 0.017, d = 0.58) and vegetables (P = 0.039, d = 0.47) in comparison to children who lived in homes with moderate-low accessibility.Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest home fruit and vegetable availability, and home fruit, fruit juice, and vegetable accessibility are both positively associated with food choice in NZ children. Availability increased weekly intake of fruits, vegetables and trim milk. Accessibility increased weekly intake of fruit juice and vegetables. The associations for foods other than fruits and vegetables in homes with high availability highlight a potential positive effect availability of fruit and vegetables may have on children’s overall diets, which warrants further research. Future interventions should focus on supporting families to modify home environments to improve children’s diets.
Advisor: Skidmore, Paula; Stoner, Lee
Degree Name: Master of Dietetics
Degree Discipline: Dietetics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: home food availability; food choice; children; New Zealand; fruit; vegetables
Research Type: Thesis