Some low-income Californian adults say their busy schedule is to blame for their unhealthy eating habits, according to a study from Johns Hopkins and the University of California, Berkeley. The study is published in Preventing Chronic Disease.
Researchers surveyed more than 500 adults living in economically deprived communities in Oakland, California, to determine barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption and whether these barriers were affected by food security status. They found that 39 percent of respondents were food insecure, meaning they had limited or uncertain access to adequate food. The most common barrier to eating healthy was being too busy to prepare healthy foods, which was also true of food-secure respondents. However, contrary to researchers’ expectations, cost and disliking the taste of healthy foods were associated with lower fruit and vegetable consumption only among food-secure respondents.
Similar to other studies, the average study respondent did not meet the recommendation of 5.5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Food-insecure respondents reported 1.9 daily servings, while food-secure respondents reported 2.7 servings. Contrary to other studies, however, researchers did not find that access to healthy foods was associated with consumption rates, and there was also no association between produce selection or quality and consumption.
“Public health researchers and practitioners should consider food security status, regardless of income, when studying and intervening on healthy food consumption,” researchers suggest.