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J Nutr Educ Behav. 2010 Jul-Aug;42(4):225-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2009.05.006.

Family members' influence on family meal vegetable choices.

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  • 1Department of Food Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.



Characterize the process of family vegetable selection (especially cruciferous, deep orange, and dark green leafy vegetables); demonstrate the usefulness of Exchange Theory (how family norms and experiences interact with rewards and costs) for interpreting the data.


Eight focus groups, 2 with each segment (men/women vegetable likers/dislikers based on a screening form). Participants completed a vegetable intake form.


Rural Appalachian Pennsylvania.


Sixty-one low-income, married/cohabiting men (n = 28) and women (n = 33).


Thematic analysis within Exchange Theory framework for qualitative data. Descriptive analysis, t tests and chi-square tests for quantitative data.


Exchange Theory proved useful for understanding that regardless of sex or vegetable liker/disliker status, meal preparers see more costs than rewards to serving vegetables. Experience plus expectations of food preparer role and of deference to family member preferences supported a family norm of serving only vegetables acceptable to everyone. Emphasized vegetables are largely ignored because of unfamiliarity; family norms prevented experimentation and learning through exposure.


Interventions to increase vegetable consumption of this audience could (1) alter family norms about vegetables served, (2) change perceptions of experiences, (3) reduce social and personal costs of serving vegetables, and (4) increase tangible and social rewards of serving vegetables.

Copyright 2010 Society for Nutrition Education. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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