Understanding a population's dietary behavior is important to promote behaviors which have the most beneficial impact on health. The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2005) identifies carotenoids as a key nutrient to be consumed through increased intake of fruits and vegetables (FV). While some studies have included or focused on the Hispanic population, few have focused only on Mexican-American populations and staged its intake of FV. Stage of change behavior theory has been used to understand the adoption and promotion of healthy behaviors such as increased intake of FV. It has been shown to effectively aid interventionists' understanding of dietary behavior. Intake patterns of FV of older women, rural residents, and adolescents of Mexican American descent have been conducted but not by stages of change. This study aimed to determine the relationship between stages of change for fruits and vegetables (SOC-FV) and total carotene intake to assess the quality of SOC-FV as a surrogate measure of total carotene.
Data from the 2000 Qué Sabrosa Vida Community Nutrition Survey (QSV-CNS) were analyzed to identify the SOC-FV and sources of carotenes in a Mexican American population 18-60 yrs. of the Paso del Norte region. A 107 item interviewer administered food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) specifically calibrated for a Mexican American population was used to collect usual intake of total carotene. The QSV survey study population included 963 participants, 590 (61.3%) women and 373 (38.7%) men. A statistically significant mean difference in caloric intake between men and women was found (p-value = <0.01). When total carotene intake was adjusted for energy, there were significant differences between men and women (p-value = <0.0001) with women consuming a higher amount of total carotene (406 RE/kcal 1,000) than men (332 RE/kcal 1000). The food sources of total carotene for both genders included many items found in a traditional Mexican American diet. Chile , after carrots, was the highest contributor of dietary carotene. Total carotene intake was not associated with stages of change among women or men and their distributions were not linear. Mean differences of total carotene by stages of change were significant for women for pre-contemplation/contemplation (p-value =0.04) and preparation (p-value=0.0004) but not for men.
SOC-FV may serve as a surrogate measure for dietary carotene intake. This study's Mexican American population had a high carotene quality diet derived from traditional food items irrespective of their stage of change for fruits and vegetables. To better understand this population's dietary intake a measure for acculturation should be included. Interventions aimed at Mexican American populations should aim to promote traditional diets consistent with cultural practices.