Objective—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 past experiences interact with rewards and costs) for interpreting the data.
Design—Eight focus groups, two with each segment (men/women vegetable-likers/dislikers based on a screening form). Participants completed a vegetable intake form.
Setting—Rural Appalachian Pennsylvania.
Participants—61 low-income, married/cohabiting men (n=28) and women (n=33).
Analysis—Thematic analysis within Exchange Theory framework for qualitative data. Descriptive analysis, t-tests and chi-square tests for quantitative data.
Results—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. Past 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 due to unfamiliarity; family norms prevented experimentation and learning through exposure.
Conclusions and Implications—Interventions to increase vegetable consumption of this audience could 1) alter family norms about vegetables served, 2) change perceptions of past experiences, 3) reduce social and personal costs of serving vegetables and 4) increase tangible and social rewards of serving vegetables.
Wenrich, T., Browne, L., & Miller-Day, M. (2010). Family members' influence on family meal vegetable choices. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 42(4), 225-234. DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2009.05.006
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