Casting health messages in terms of responsibility for dietary change: Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption

Pamela Williams-Piehota, Ashley Cox, Stephanie Navarro Silvera, Linda Mowad, Sharon Garcia, Nicole Katulak, Peter Salovey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare the effectiveness of messages emphasizing the importance of either personal or social responsibility for dietary behavior change in increasing fruit and vegetable intake. Design/Setting: Randomly assigned individually or socially oriented messages were delivered at baseline, 1 week, and 2 and 3 months later. Telephone surveys were conducted at baseline and 1 and 4 months later. Participants: 528 callers to a cancer information hotline who were not meeting the "5 A Day" dietary recommendation. Interventions: A brief telephone-delivered message and 3 mailings of pamphlets and promotional items encouraging fruit and vegetable intake that emphasized either personal or social responsibility. Main Outcome Measures: Fruit and vegetable intake 1 and 4 months postbaseline. Analysis: Chi-square, t tests, and analyses of variance and covariance. Results: Both types of messages increased intake substantially (P = .01). To some extent, the social responsibility message continued to motivate increased intake over time compared with the personal responsibility message. Conclusions and Implications: These minimal interventions had a substantial impact on fruit and vegetable intake. Health messages might be more effective over the longer term if they are designed to emphasize the importance of social responsibility, although further study is needed to confirm the robustness of these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-120
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004


  • Food habits
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Health behavior
  • Responsibility


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