Purpose: Assess effectiveness of an intervention to improve fruit and vegetable consumption in economically disadvantaged young adults.
Design: Randomized treatment-control, pre-post design.
Setting: Ten states.
Subjects: Young adults (n = 2024, ages 18-24) were recruited from noncollege venues; 1255 (62%) completed assessment interviews at baseline and at 4 and 12 months.
Intervention: Treatment participants received a series of mailed materials and two educational calls in 6 months. Controls received a mailed pamphlet.
Measures: Assessment calls determined two measures of fruit and vegetable intakes, demographics and stage of change at baseline, 4 and 12 months, plus treatment participants' decisional balance, processes, and self-efficacy.
Analysis: Repeated measure analysis of variance, intent-to-treat, chi2, and logistic regression.
Results: At follow-up, participants in the experimental group had higher intakes of fruit and vegetables than controls (perceived daily intakes of 4.90 vs. 4.60 servings per day, F = 3.49, p < .05 and 4.31 vs. 3.92 servings/day via 5-A-Day Screener, F= 4.78, p < .01) and greater progression to action or maintenance stages (66% progress in fruitfor intervention vs. 55% progress in fruit for controls; 47% vs. 32% progress for vegetables, p = .0080 and .0001, respectively). Lower education, non-White ethnicity, male gender, living with children, and experimental group assignment predicted attrition (chi2(6df) = 288, p < .001, Cox R2 = .132).
Conclusions: Tailored educational messages and research-extension partnerships are advantageous for improving fruit and vegetable intakes of young adults.