Young adults frequently engage in sub-optimal dietary behaviours, such as inadequate intakes of fruits and vegetables and excessive consumption of take-out meals…
Young adults frequently engage in sub-optimal dietary behaviours, such as inadequate intakes of fruits and vegetables and excessive consumption of take-out meals. Theory-based interventions are suggested to promote dietary change. The transtheoretical model is an example that stages an individual’s readiness to change behaviours as precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance, and includes a series of processes that help people move between stages. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether self-reported usual dietary intakes of fruits and vegetables and take-out foods differ by reported stage-of-change.
Cross-sectional data from 250 overweight young adults, aged 18-35 years, who enrolled in a lifestyle intervention to prevent weight gain are analysed. Participant’s stage-of-change for increasing fruit and vegetable intakes and reducing take-out foods is determined using staging algorithms. This is compared with self-reported dietary intakes over the past month using a food frequency questionnaire. Differences in intakes and variety by stage-of-change are compared for fruits, vegetables and take-out foods.
Take-out foods differed between stages (p < 0.0001), with lower weekly intakes in action (309 g) and maintenance (316 g) compared with preparation (573 g). Daily fruit intakes and variety scores varied by stage-of-change (p < 0.0001), being highest for action and maintenance (261 g and 263 g, respectively, and variety scores of 1 and 2) compared with precontemplation, contemplation and preparation (all = 100 g and 0 for variety). Daily vegetable consumption and variety scores differed by stage (p = 0.009 and p = 0.025, respectively) being highest for action/maintenance (204 g and 2 for variety) versus precontemplation and preparation (<110 g daily and Variety 1).
The finding of no differences in intakes between precontemplation, contemplation or preparation stages implies that the adoption of the dietary behaviours is not a continuum but a move from pre-action to actioning the target intakes. This means that for planning health promotion and dietary counselling, assigning people to the three different pre-action stages may be unnecessary.
This study is the first to examine the congruence of self-reported readiness to change behaviour with dietary intakes of take-out foods as well as variety of fruit and vegetables in overweight young adults.