National health guidelines emphasize the nutritional benefits of fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption. Positive associations between FV consumption, health awareness, and cooking skills have been noted in previous work. However, little is known about this relationship among university faculty and staff.
To explore the relationship between cooking skills, health perceptions, importance of FV consumption, and FV purchase criteria among university faculty and staff by gender.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
A random representative sample of faculty and staff at a large Southern university were recruited to complete an online survey in spring 2018 (n = 175).
Questions included cooking skills, perceived health status, benefits of produce consumption, produce purchasing criteria, and demographic data. Associations between cooking skills, self-health assessment, and fresh produce buying preferences were evaluated using Pearson's correlation test. Independent t-tests were used to determine differences by gender. Significance was determined by P ≤ .05.
Health perceptions were positively correlated with perceived health benefits of fresh produce (P < .05), non-GMO/Organic (P < .05), and locally grown (P < .05). Female participants reported higher cooking skill levels. Cooking skills were positively associated with grocery shopping responsibilities (P < .01), shopping at the farmer's market (P < .01), and home gardens (P < .05).
In this study, females responded with the highest cooking skill levels which positively correlated with importance of fresh produce, specific purchasing preferences, and self-perceived health status. While overall cooking skill level in this sample was high, it is likely that those interested in healthy eating were more likely to complete the survey. Universities could play an important role in improving fresh produce consumption among faculty and staff by providing support and resources in the form of cooking classes through university programs such as nutrition departments, university wellness programs, and community venues.