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J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Oct;110(10):1542-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.07.001.

Perceived barriers mediate the association between self-efficacy and fruit and vegetable consumption among students attending alternative high schools.

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  • 1School of Nursing, Biostatistical Design and Analysis Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA.


Compared to students attending regular high schools, alternative high school students are more likely to be racial/ethnic minorities, have higher levels of poverty, and higher rates of risky and poor health behaviors, including weight-related behaviors like limited fruit and vegetable intake. However, little is known about fruit/vegetable intake among alternative high school students. This study examined whether perceived barriers to healthy eating mediated the association between self-efficacy to eat healthy foods and fruit/vegetable consumption among alternative high school students. The cross-sectional study population consisted of students (N=145) attending six alternative high schools in the St Paul-Minneapolis, MN, area who were participants in an obesity prevention pilot study and completed a baseline survey during fall 2006. Mixed model linear regression, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, was used to test a series of regression models performed according to mediation analysis procedures. Students' mean age was 17.3 years; 52% were male, 63% were low-income, and 61% were from racial/ethnic minorities. Students reported a mean fruit/vegetable intake of 3.6 servings per day, mean self-efficacy to eat healthy score of 22.2 (range 3 to 35), and mean barriers to eating healthy score of 6.9 (range 3 to 13). Perceived barriers to healthy eating fully mediated the relationship between self-efficacy and fruit/vegetable consumption (Sobel test statistic 2.7, P=0.007). Interventions targeting the dietary practices of alternative high school students should include components to decrease perceived barriers as a way to increase self-efficacy and ultimately fruit/vegetable intake.

Copyright © 2010 American Dietetic Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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