Issue addressed: Populations in many developed countries continue to fail to meet vegetable consumption recommendations despite ongoing health promotion activities supported by public health policies. Novel ways to encourage vegetable consumption may help address this concern. The aim of the present study was to describe female consumers’ perceptions about leafy green vegetables and identify consumption issues.
Methods: Three age-stratified semistructured focus groups were conducted with 23 female participants. Food shopping habits, reported consumption and/or knowledge, and the perceived benefits of and/or issues associated with the consumption of leafy green vegetables were explored. Focus groups were transcribed verbatim. Two researchers examined each transcript in conjunction with accompanying observers’ notes. Content and thematic analysis was conducted to identify final themes.
Results: Three key themes were identified: (1) food selection is influenced by time limitations, convenience factors and quality considerations; (2) the repertoire of vegetables is influenced by acceptability within households, familiarity and culinary confidence; and (3) connection with nutritional value is influenced by existing beliefs and knowledge of the nutrient content of leafy green vegetables. Variations found on self-reported intake and acceptability were related to life stage and needs.
Conclusions: Leafy green varieties were perceived as important contributors to a healthy diet. Key barriers to consumption identified in the thematic review related to time constraints, culinary skills and variations in nutritional knowledge.
So what?: Primary awareness of vegetables as being critical to a healthy diet has been established. Future health promotion activities could focus more on convenience, nutrient quality and versatility of leafy green vegetables, and other similar vegetables, as a way to increase total consumption.