Young men do not consume enough fruit and vegetables, increasing their risk for future ill health.
To understand what motivates their food choice, a novel conceptual framework that included key concepts from the theory of planned behavior and risk theory was developed. Thirty-four British men (18–24 years) took part in focus groups, where innovative visual qualitative methods provided insight into participants’ motivations for fruit and vegetable consumption.
Based on information from food diaries, participants were described as high (4+ portions) or low (up to 3 portions) consumers. Interviews were coded thematically into concepts and characteristics of the conceptual framework. Young men were generally unaware of the UK government’s recommendation to consume 5 portions of fruit and vegetable a day and chronic health risks associated with low consumption. High consumers were motivated by perceived risk, perceived behavioral control, and health-conscious self-identity. They held internalized, holistic beliefs about diet and health, whereas low consumers’ beliefs were externalized, based on physical appearances. Low consumers were driven by social influences to consume cheap, easily available convenience foods.
The conceptual framework differentiated levels of fruit and vegetable consumption between the two groups and provided new information about young men’s motivations for fruit and vegetable consumption.
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