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Open Access Research

Fruit and vegetables intake among elderly Iranians: a theory-based interventional study using the five-a-day program

Leili Salehi12, Kazem Mohammad3 and Ali Montazeri4*

Author Affiliations

1 Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Center for Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), Tehran, Iran

2 Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj, Iran

3 Department of Epidemiology and Statistics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 Mental Health Research Group, Mother and Child Health Research Centre, Iranian Institute for Health Sciences Research, ACECR, Tehran, Iran

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Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:123  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-123

Published: 14 November 2011

Abstract

Background

The benefit of FV intake in old age is well documented. However, there is evidence that old people do not consume enough FV. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a tailored nutrition intervention that aimed to increase the FV intake among elderly Iranians aged 60 and over.

Methods

This quasi-experimental study was performed among a community-based sample of elderly in Tehran, Iran in year 2008 to 2009. Data were collected at baseline and 4 weeks follow-up. At baseline face-to-face interviews were conducted using a structured questionnaire including items on demographic information, stages of change, self-efficacy, decisional balance, daily servings of FV intake. Follow-up data were collected after implementing the intervention.

Results

In all 400 elderly were entered into the study (200 individuals in intervention group and 200 in control group). The mean age of participants was 64.06 ± 4.48 years and overall two-third of participants were female. At baseline total FV intake was not differed between two groups but it was significantly increased in the intervention group at posttest assessment (mean serving/day in intervention group 3.08 ± 1.35 vs. 1.79 ± 1.08 in control group; P = 0.001). Further analysis also indicated that elderly in intervention group had higher FV intake, perceived benefits and self-efficacy, and lower perceived barriers. Compared with control group, greater proportions of elderly in intervention group moved from pre-contemplation to contemplation/preparation and action/maintenance stages (P < 0.0001), and from contemplation/preparation to action/maintenance stages (P = 0.004) from pretest to posttest assessments.

Conclusion

This study suggests that the Transtheoretical Model is a useful model that can be applied to dietary behavior change, more specifically FV consumption among elderly population in Iran and perhaps elsewhere with similar conditions.