The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), is dedicated to helping consumers live happier, healthy lives by eating more fruits and vegetables, including fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice, every single day.
Consumers are largely aware that fruits and vegetables are healthy, correctly associating them with a wide variety of physical benefits ranging from boosting immunity to improving gut health and more. In a new study, specifically, individuals with consumption habits are significantly more likely to associate health benefits with eating fruits and vegetables (immunity, gut health, weight management, energy, the environment, emotional wellbeing, and managing a health condition) compared to those without habits.
However, knowledge of fruit and vegetable healthfulness does not automatically beget action. Further, knowledge does not only apply to understanding their health benefits, but also having sufficient skills to achieve greater consumption. Across all vegetable eaters, the greatest motivation for vegetable selection is that “it’s a favorite.”
Still, in this study, low-frequency vegetable eaters are significantly more likely than high- or medium-frequency eaters to say that if they could make anything easier about eating vegetables, it would be the ability to make them taste better. Vegetable eaters express that taste is a challenge, particularly with finding a variety and preparation style or recipe everyone likes.
These findings echo previous insights from behavior research, with decades of science finding that future health does not appear to be a motivator for short-term behavior change, including food consumption. Individuals tend to be “present-biased” in their behavior, choosing short- over long-term rewards. They often deal with problems when they arise, rather than anticipating them and addressing them “upstream.”
While a great deal of work has been completed to identify mechanisms to make it easier for people to make choices that benefit them long-term, research suggests approaches that focus messaging and initiatives on short-term rewards, such as taste and enjoyment, may be most effective in positively impacting fruit and vegetable consumption.