The Theory of Planned Behavior and the USDA Summer Food Service Program

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Rachel HarringtonORCID iD icon


Applied Human Sciences

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Objective: Examine the impact of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) on the intentions to positively change fruit and vegetable consumption in a rural, low-income adolescent population using the Theory of Planned Behavior. Design: Quantitative data collected via a pre-post intervention survey to determine predictors of positive nutrition behaviors and changes in self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption. Setting: A mid-sized university. Participants: Fifty-seven high school students. Participants were primarily female (n = 36) and white (n = 56). Intervention: Participants followed the standards of the SFSP for 5 weeks and were provided with mandatory and optional nutrition education sessions. Main outcome measure: Intentions to change nutrition behaviors. Analysis: Multiple regression. Results: Paired-sample t test showed a significant increase in knowledge from pretest (mean [M] = 11.18, SD = 1.68) to posttest (M = 12.91, SD = 1.76); t[56] = -8.09, P < 0.001; (t[56] = -8.09, P < 0.001) and in self-reported fruit and vegetable intake from pretest (M = 13.96, SD = 4.23) to posttest (M = 16.80, SD = 5.42); (t[56] = -3.20, P = 0.002). Regression demonstrated that all constructs of the Theory of Planned Behavior were significant (F[4, 52] = 14.56, P < 0.001 with an R2 of 0.53) for their effects on behavior intentions with perceived behavioral control being the most salient predictor. Conclusions and implications: Opportunities for shaping adolescent nutrient intake and eating behaviors during enrollment in the SFSP exist. Reinforcing positive attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control may help to increase nutrition behavioral intentions and nutrition behaviors.

Journal Title

Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

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