Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (2015) 2:341–350


Copyright W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2015


American Indians experience higher rates of obesity than any other ethnic group living in the USA. This disparity begins to develop in early childhood, and the excess weight carried by American Indian children contributes to health conditions that can affect their quality of life by the time they enter preschool. These children consume less than recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, a dietary pattern that may be related to the development of obesity and other health conditions. This qualitative study explored the fruit and vegetable intake of American Indian toddlers through use of the information-motivation-behavioral skills (IMB) model. Focus groups with caregivers of American Indian toddlers and interviews with stakeholders in American Indian communities were conducted to investigate perceptions of knowledge, motivational, and behavioral skills related to the fruit and vegetable intake of American Indian toddlers. Study participants communicated that peer support, food insecurities, cultural norms, self-efficacy, and skills to prepare fruits and vegetables impact their ability to provide fruits and vegetables to toddlers. Study participants expressed a desire to increase their knowledge regarding fruits and vegetables, including variety, benefits, and recommendations for consumption. Findings from this qualitative study provide essential insights into perceptions of fruits and vegetables among caregivers of American Indian toddlers and stakeholders in American Indian communities. Future research will utilize these findings to develop a culturally appropriate IMB-model-based fruit and vegetable-focused nutrition education program for American Indian families.