Campus Units

Food Science and Human Nutrition, Political Science

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Publication Version

Published Version

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Journal or Book Title

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health





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Insights into barriers and facilitators for healthy eating are needed to improve low-income women’s diets and to decrease disease risk. The study objectives were to explore women’s qualitative perceptions of influences on their food choices such as food security, their knowledge of nutrition-related health risk factors and self-efficacy for diet change, and their dietary intakes in practice. Thirty-six women, aged 19–50, who were eligible to receive income-based assistance were recruited in central Iowa. Focus group discussions on defining healthy foods, influences on food choice, and nutrition information sources were analyzed using a socioecological model framework. Demographics, nutrient intake estimates, food security status, health behaviors, and self-efficacy for nutrition behavior change were collected by survey. Most participants were White (61%), single (69%), food insecure (69%), and living with children (67%). Few women met dietary recommendations. Barriers to healthy eating include cost, convenience/preparation time, family taste preferences, and limitations of federal food assistance programs. Facilitators are high self-efficacy for nutrition change and health knowledge on average. These results challenge the strategy of using nutrition education to improve healthy eating and instead show that intervention messaging should focus on limited, achievable steps to improve dietary choices that fit within cost, convenience, and taste constraints.


This article is published as Palmer, S.M., Knoblauch, S.T., Winham, D.M., Hiller, M.B., Shelley, M.C., Putting Knowledge into Practice: Low-Income Women Talk about Food Choice Decisions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(14); 5092. doi:10.3390/ijerph17145092.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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The Author(s) and International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health



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