Repository logo

Examining the application of the transtheoretical model of change for fruit and vegetable consumption among college students


Nutrition education messages about the adequate amount of fruits and vegetables in the diet have the potential to disseminate information the optimum level of fruit and vegetable intake to the population. However, this potential will be effective, only if the audience incorporates these messages. To facilitate the acceptance of nutrition education messages, we need to understand the process of behavior change across different behaviors and cultural/ethnic groups. The main purpose of this study was to examine the applicability of the Transtheoretical Model for fruit and vegetable eating behavior in male North American, Latino and Asian college students at Colorado State University. First, a 40-item scale was developed to measure the processes of change. Second, stages of change for eating five fruits and vegetables a day were assessed. Third, the relationship between stages of change and processes of change constructs for fruit and vegetable consumption was examined. Results showed that the developed scale was reliable and valid for the target population. Most of the participants were classified as in the preparation or contemplation stages of change, and the stage classification was significantly related to the participant's cultural/ethnic background. North American and Latino participants were predominantly in preparation while Asian participants were in precontemplation. In addition, the North American and Latino groups used less processes of change (stimulus control, dramatic relief and environment reevaluation) than the Asian group. The relationship between stages of change and processes of change indicated that generally the processes of change scores for fruit and vegetable intake were lower in early stages of change than in later stages of change. The finding that each cognitive/experiential composite score was higher than behavioral composite scores across stages of change did not agree with most studies in smoking, but agreed with some studies on diet and exercise. Although more research needs to focus on the applicability of the stages of change and processes of change constructs, the present study provides partial evidence of the value of the Transtheoretical Model in fruit and vegetable eating behavior in the nutrition education arena.


Rights Access


Behavior modification
Food habits
College students -- Nutrition
College students


Associated Publications