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SNAP-Eligible Families Encounter Multiple Economic, Social, and Environmental Barriers to Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

      Objective

      Low-income households devote fewer dollars per person to the purchase of fruits and vegetables (FV). Eating FV in place of more energy-dense foods is associated with body weight management and reduced risk for many chronic diseases. Social marketing (SM) interventions have shown to influence health behavior, thus, Ohio SNAP-Ed is developing a SM campaign to increase FV demand and consumption among the target population. This study's purpose was to explore dietary patterns and motivations/barriers to FV consumption among Ohio SNAP-eligible families to inform campaign development.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      Cross-sectional, mixed methods approach using focus groups and an online survey. Participants were primarily SNAP-eligible adults at or below 185% poverty with children living in the home.

      Outcome Measures and Analysis

      Family characteristics (e.g., income, ethnicity, number of children in household); behaviors related to purchasing, preparation, and consumption of FV; motivators and barriers associated with eating FV. Focus groups were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using thematic analysis techniques in NVivo. Three trained researchers coded survey responses and distilled collective findings into thematic observations.

      Results

      Thirteen themes emerged, including the prevailing influence of cost, family member taste preferences, and shelf life on food purchases. Nearly half (48.1%) of the target population felt that they eat “enough” fruits and vegetables, despite reporting intake levels well below USDA recommendations.

      Conclusions and Implications

      The economic, social, and environmental barriers to FV consumption identified by Ohio SNAP-eligible adults justify a need for innovative SM strategies to enhance existing SNAP-Ed programs. Consideration of such barriers will ultimately guide and strengthen the design of a SM campaign.

      Funding

      Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education

      Supplementary data