Challenges and interventions to increase fruit and vegetables consumption
In order to design effective interventions and policy measures to increase fruit and vegetables (F&V) consumption in different populations, it is critical to know the perceptions and views held by members of the target groups. In this issue of the Global Fruit & Veg Newsletter, Howse and colleagues present a study exploring the experiences of young urban adults. Three narratives are identified in this qualitative study, namely value, appeal and emotional connections of food. The results point to influences at different levels of the environment and food system. As suggested by the authors, these are key targets for environment level and policy-level interventions. Interventions seen as most acceptable to the target group should be explored.
Focused interventions providing feedback and concrete advice on how to increase F&V consumption are being developed and tested. Gustafson presents the “Go Big and Bring it Home” project designed to encourage 15 year-olds to purchase F&V. Working with mentors for a week to identify salient messages, the participants received concrete challenges and advices via text messages over the following six weeks. The evaluation reveals a number of encouraging results.
A study with Australians adult applied a smartphone app “VegEze” designed to increase vegetable variety and consumption. By tracking actual intake, participants received daily feedback on consumption, content and recipe notifications several times a week. As reported by Williams and colleagues, the app has the potential to reach large numbers and it is expected to increase the average daily intake of F&V with ¼ t ½ serving.
These studies both highlight the need for engaging with target populations in identifying appropriate policy interventions and the possibilities of designing targeted interventions using technological platforms. Combined, such strategies have the potential to support large population groups in increasing their F&V consumption.