Objective: This study evaluated the Michigan Farmers' Market Nutrition Program in one Michigan county to determine its effect on fruit and vegetable consumption behavior.
Subjects/setting: Subjects were selected from WIC and Community Action Agency populations: 564 low income women completed the pretest; 455 completed the posttest. Attrition rate was 19.3%.
Intervention: Subjects were assigned to one of 4 interventions: education about the use, storage and nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, distribution of farmers' market coupons, both education and coupons, or no intervention.
Design: Education-only and coupon and education groups were randomly assigned; clinic appointment timing determined assignment to no-intervention and coupon-only groups.
Main outcome measures: A self-administered questionnaire before and after intervention measured attitudes about fruit and vegetable consumption and intake of fruits and vegetables. WIC records documented redemption of coupons.
Statistical analyses: Data analysis included 2-way multivariate analysis of covariance, univariate analysis of covariance, logistic regression, and covariance structure modeling.
Results: Both the education interventions and the coupon interventions had positive effects. Coupons had a direct effect on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption behavior but no effect on attitudes. Education had a direct effect on attitudes and seemed to exert an effect on consumption behavior through attitudes. The maximum impact of the intervention was achieved through a combination of education and coupons.
Applications: This study demonstrated that a low-income population may be more likely to increase its fruit and vegetable consumption behavior when incentives such as coupons improve affordability.