Patterns and determinants of fresh fruit and vegetable intake among pupils of basic schools in the Amansie West District of The Ashanti Region

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The benefits of fruits and vegetable consumption have been numerously documented. However, large proportions of children both in and out of school do not fulfill the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Therefore a study was conducted to determine the patterns and determinants of consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among basic school students in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti region. The study sought to determine the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables to students, evaluate the frequency of consumption and quality of fresh fruits and vegetables, to assess the effect of the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables on the health of students and to evaluate the determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption among students. Questionnaires were administered to about 314 students in Basic schools of the Amansie West District and analysed using SPSS. Laboratory analysis conducted on fruits and vegetables from both the farm and market was analyzed using the student T-test. From the results, students (56.1%) consumed fruits while 74.2% consumed vegetables. Fruits and vegetables, respectively were found to be readily available to students from their parent farm (53.82; 71.97%), market (19.75%; 4.78%) and garden (12.74%; 2.23%).Majority of students (66.6%) consumed fruits once a day while few (29.6 %) consumed vegetables once a day. The major determinants for both fruit and vegetable consumption among the pupils was familiarity with the fruit and vegetables (94.6%) whereas Taste (61.8%) and food safety (40.4%) were the major quality determinants for fruits and vegetables, respectively. Logistic regression also showed that students were 0.7 times less likely to fall sick for every vegetable eaten and 2 times less likely for every fruit eaten when all other factors were controlled. From the health record of the Amansie West District hospital of the age range of respondents and their eating habit of fruits and vegetables including the treatment given to the fruits and vegetables before consumption could be contributory factors to the high reports of diarrhoea in the District. However, from the laboratory analysis the microbial load levels of Total Plate Count, Total Mould Count, Total Coliform and E. coli present on fruit and vegetable samples from the laboratory analysis were within the acceptable range for human consumption (less than 3log10cfu/g). It can therefore be concluded that student in the district consumed more fruits than vegetables due to their familiarity with fruits. Educating them and making more fruits and vegetables available to them may improve consumption and thereby their health
A thesis presented to The School of Research and Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy (Postharvest Technology).