Attempts so far to examine fruit and vegetable consumption have been limited, mainly examining those with low fruit and vegetable consumption or examining the behaviour within the framework offered by the attitude models described earlier in this chapter. A shortcoming of many of the studies outlined above, is that a starting point is often assumed where the main facilitator of fruit and vegetable consumption is that individuals are motivated to eat fruit and vegetables largely for health reasons, and therefore the behaviour is explored within this narrow context.
An important aspect of food choice, omitted from the attitudinal models, is the experiential or hedonic motivations for consumption. It may be the case that health beliefs are important in influencing fruit and vegetable consumption (as featured in the work of Brug et al, 1995), but fruit and vegetable consumption may be motivated by hedonics (Holbrook and Hirschman, 1982) or by appearance and self-esteem (Hayes and Ross, 1987). Research into this area has to include motivation to consume, as well as other psychological factors.There is also a clear need to incorporate the social influences on fruit and vegetable consumption, such as the influence of the family.
It is also clear from the literature that understanding of the process from motivation or behavioural intention to consumption or behaviour is weak, in general. While studies have looked at the barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption (Cox et al, 1995; Anderson, et al, 1994b), there has been no study which has systematically considered these as intervening variables influencing consumption.Given these gaps in the literature, the present research focuses on modelling fruit and vegetable consumption. Multivariate approaches (such as discriminant analysis and log linear analysis ) are available to establish the most salient variables influencing consumption, which provides the basis of a model of how these variables influence fruit and vegetable consumption behaviour.
Understanding non- or low-consumption of fruit and vegetables is central to this thesis; models of low and high fruit and vegetable consumers per se may provide some insights into this consumption behaviour. Developing models from a goal directed perspective would also assist in achieving a further understanding of the nature of the influence of these variables/factors, and the process by which they influence consumption.A comparison of important influences for those with a positive behavioural intention to consume fruit/vegetables would provide these insights. The main research question, then, is What are the factors influencing fruit and vegetable consumption, and how might their relationship be modelled?.
To answer this it is necessary to first establish the most salient factors influencing consumption of both fruit and vegetables, and then to consider what intervenes between commitment to act and action.