DOI: 10.3390/nu16060779 ISSN: 2072-6643

Examining Sociodemographic Factors, Reasons, and Barriers in the Diversity of Fruit and Vegetable Intake among Undergraduate Students

Thanaporn Kaewpradup, Mutthatinee Tangmongkhonsuk, Charoonsri Chusak, Mario Siervo, Sirichai Adisakwattana
  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

The transition from adolescence to university life represents a crucial period during which dietary choices can significantly influence long-term health outcomes. While the benefits of consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (FVs) are widely acknowledged, there remains a noticeable gap in research concerning the factors influencing the consumption of specific FV varieties among university students. This study aimed to investigate the factors and barriers influencing the diversity of fruit and vegetable intake among undergraduate students. A cross-sectional study involving 542 undergraduate students (with an average age of 20.6 ± 0.1 years and a body mass index of 21.3 ± 0.2 kg/m2) was conducted at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, between February and September 2022. Most students showed a preference for tropical fruits with inedible peels (88.2%) and Brassicaceae vegetables (91.0%), whereas lower consumption was observed for citrus fruits (19.7%) and Fabaceae vegetables (43.7%). Sociodemographic factors and cooking methods significantly influenced FV intake, with non-consumption associated with male students, independent living, lower BMI, and advanced academic years. A lower quality of life was found to be correlated with a higher proportion of students who did not consume vegetables. Barriers to inadequate fruit intake included busy lifestyles, while taste preference emerged as the primary reason for fruit consumption. Busy lifestyles and perceived healthiness were identified as the main barriers and reasons for vegetable intake. The study highlights the importance of implementing strategies and improvements in the university environment to promote diverse FV consumption and encourage healthy dietary behaviors among students.

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