Videotaping message helps black teens eat more fruits, veggies

December 05, 2002

African American adolescents who talked about healthy diet and exercise recommendations in front of a video camera increased their own fruit and vegetable intake after a 12-week program, a new study reports.

The findings suggest that this tactic, called a "strategic self-presentation," helped the middle school students boost their personal concept of their own health and their confidence to make improvements in their diet and activity, which may have led to higher fruit and vegetable consumption.

The study results, by Dawn K. Wilson, Ph.D., of the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina and colleagues, are published in the December issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Wilson examined different strategies for increasing fruit and vegetable intake among 53 African American students, ages 11 to 15, who were enrolled in an after-school intramural sports program. The students answered questions about their personal health outlook and diet and exercise motivation, reported their food intake over a three-day period and wore an activity monitor for four days.

Specifically, the study authors compared three different treatment strategies: an education-only program, a behavioral skills approach that teaches individuals how to attain certain health goals and a third method that combined behavioral skills learning with a motivational technique called strategic self-presentation

Strategic self-presentation "is based on the proposition that one's public displays shape a person's private self," Wilson explains. "That is, how we present ourselves to others has a powerful influence on how we come to conceive of ourselves and subsequently behave."

In this case, the students in that group were videotaped while they were interviewed about their own coping strategies for changing diet and exercise routines. The students could make changes to the videotape after viewing themselves.

After randomly assigning the students to one of the three possible groups, Wilson and colleagues monitored changes in the survey results, diet and activity before and after treatment.

Adolescents in the group that combined videotaping with behavioral skills learning and those in the behavioral skills-only group both increased their fruit and vegetable intake, compared with the education-only group.

The videotaped students were the only ones to show a significant correlation between their belief in a healthy self-image and their ability to change their health, and the amount and change in fruit and vegetable consumption after treatment.

There were no significant changes in physical activity within any of the three treatment groups, say the authors.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may strongly decrease the odds of developing high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure affects approximately 43 million Americans, and African American children are 1.5 times more likely to develop high blood pressure and heart disease in early adulthood compared to white children.
-end-
This research was supported in part by grants from the National Kidney Foundation Virginia State Affiliate and Virginia Commonwealth University.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Health Behavior News Service: (202) 387-2829 or www.hbns.org.
Interviews: Contact Dawn K. Wilson at dkwilson@sc.edu or (803) 576-5984.
Annals of Behavioral Medicine: Contact Robert Kaplan, Ph.D., (619) 534-6058.

Center for Advancing Health

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