Fruit and vegies not on “cool” food list

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 26th November 2008

Peer pressure is a barrier to many young men eating fruit and vegetables, according to new research.

Many men fail to eat the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables, so NSW researchers Susan Dumbrell* and Deidre Mathai** asked groups of 18-25 year olds and 26-40 year olds about what influenced their fruit and vegetable intake.

They share their research findings in the December issue of the Health Promotion Journal of Australia.

The study discovered that young men tend to only eat fruit and vegetables when they are prepared for them, usually by women. Other barriers included taste, cost and convenience.

Their comments included:

“… if your mates suggest a fast food restaurant, if you say ‘oh, let’s get some vegetables’, they’ll laugh at you.”


“… this may sound lazy, but if my wife cuts up fruit I’ll eat it.”

Men from the 26-40 year old age group were more interested in learning cooking skills, while younger men believed fruit and vegetables needed better marketing strategies to ensure they could appeal to a younger audience.

“Call it ‘aubergine’ and ‘courgette’ and that’s the French words for ’em, and they sound heaps better,” one young man commented.

“Liking fruit is not seen as part of young men’s culture,” co-author Susan Dumbrell noted. “But encouraging parents to involve their sons in food preparation may influence their vegetable intake.”

The Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey released earlier this year, highlighted that fruit intake declines as children get older despite the fact they are eating more. This research highlights why this may be the case as, with teenagers given more control over their own diet, they are likely to choose options which fit in with their culture.

* Northern Sydney Central Coast Health Promotion Service; ** Nutrition Department Royal North Shore Hospital