Research Research and Professional Briefs| Volume 113, ISSUE 1, P127-132, January 2013

Positive Attitudes toward Organic, Local, and Sustainable Foods Are Associated with Higher Dietary Quality among Young Adults

Published:December 20, 2012DOI:


      Scant evidence is available on the relationship between preferences for organic, local, sustainable, and nonprocessed foods (ie, alternative food production practices) and dietary quality. This cross-sectional study examined the characteristics and dietary behaviors (eg, consumption of fruits, vegetables, fast food) of young adults who reported placing low, moderate, or high importance on alternative food production practices. A diverse sample of 1,201 students at a 2-year community college and a 4-year public university in the Twin Cities, MN, completed the Student Health and Wellness Study survey in spring 2010. χ2 tests examined differences in attitudes across demographic characteristics. Linear regression adjusted dietary intake across attitudes. About half (49%) of young adults placed moderate to high importance on alternative production practices, and few demographic differences across attitudes were found. Young adults who placed high importance on alternative production practices consumed 1.3 more servings of fruits and vegetables (P<0.001), more dietary fiber (P<0.001), fewer added sugars (P<0.001), fewer sugar-sweetened beverages (P=0.001), and less fat (P=0.025) than those who placed low importance on these practices. Young adults who placed high importance on alternative food production practices also consumed breakfast approximately 1 more day per week and fast food half as often as those who placed low importance on these practices (P<0.001). Study findings suggest that nutrition messaging around social and environmental implications of food production practices may be well received by this age group. Experimental studies are needed to investigate whether attitudes toward alternative production practices can be manipulated to improve dietary quality.


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      J. E. Pelletier is a research assistant, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis.


      M. N. Laska is an associate professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis.


      D. Neumark-Sztainer is a professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis.


      M. Story is a professor and associate dean, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis.