Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor(s)

DEANNA HOELSCHER, PHD, RDN, LD, CNS, FISBNPA

Second Advisor

NALINI RANJIT, PhD

Abstract

Adequate fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption is critical for child growth and development, healthy immune function, and quality of life. Despite national and international efforts, FV consumption remains below recommended levels. In addition to the importance of FV amount, consumption of FV variety is important to meet micronutrient needs. Less is known about FV variety consumption, particularly among U.S. adolescents. This dissertation explored FV variety through a systematic review of operationalization of FV variety and analysis of cross-sectional data from Texas School Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (Texas SPAN) 2015-2016 data. The systematic review of FV variety p great variation in operationalization of variety in the literature, identified the gap in the literature regarding FV variety among U.S. adolescents, and demonstrated the importance of FV variety as associated with important healthy lifestyle and dietary behaviors, among other aspects of health. A sample of n=9,056 8th and 11th graders weighted be representative of N=659,288 was included in these analyses. Adolescent FV variety consumption among Texas 8th and 11th graders was examined in association with demographic factors and overall dietary quality, and with weight status and intention to lose weight. Adolescents living on the Texas Mexico border consumed lower V variety and FV variety than those in non-border regions. No significant differences were found in variety by race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status. V variety and FV variety were associated with higher dietary quality scores among adolescents in the highest SES tertile. Adolescent girls with obesity who intended to lose weight consumed higher V and FV variety than adolescent girls with obesity who did not intend to lose weight. FV variety can be an important component of health promotion efforts for adolescents of all weight categories, including adolescents with obesity who intend to lose weight. This dissertation contributes to filling a gap in the literature regarding FV variety, underscored the importance of variety for health promotion efforts due to important nutrient, dietary, and lifestyle links, as well as demonstrated changeability through intervention. FV variety is a distinct construct from FV quantity and is a critical area for future research.

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