Why we don’t eat our vegetables

at 03:33 PM ET, 02/23/2012

(Barbara Damrosch - THE WASHINGTON POST)
New research in the journal Public Health Nutrition offers some surprising findings on what prevents people from eating more healthily. The study’s authors looked at fruit and vegetable consumption in six low-income, primarily minority neighborhoods in Chicago, and they found that convenience was key among those who eat more produce. Participants who agreed that they had “convenient access to quality” produce were more than twice as likely to eat the FDA-recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, compared to those who said they did not have such access.

What didn’t matter, though, was the price of produce. Those who reported high cost as a barrier to the consumption of produce ended up eating just as much as those who didn’t.

“In fact, perceived cost was not associated with dietary intake among this predominantly minority and low-income audience,” write Jonathan Blitstein, Jeremy Snider and W. Douglas Evans. “Respondents who agreed that cost was a barrier to eating fruits and vegetables did not report lower dietary intake than respondents who disagreed that cost was a barrier.”

This study fits well with Mark Bittman’s recent argument that Americans aren’t skipping healthy food because of its high cost, but rather because cooking with fresh produce takes significantly more work.

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