Exploring Facilitators and Barriers to Healthy Eating Among Community Gardeners

Friday, 26 July 2013: 8:30 AM

Matthew T. Cotton, BSN, RN
Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Covenant Health System, Lubbock, TX
JoAnn D. Long, RN, PhD, NEA-BC
Department of Nursing, Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, TX

Learning Objective 1: 1) Discuss the findings of a qualitative focus group examining healthy eating in a community garden setting.

Learning Objective 2: 2) Discuss the facilitators, barriers, benefits, and use of social media to promote healthy eating in a community setting.

Purpose: Insufficient fruit/vegetable intake (FVI) is among the ten leading risk factors for global mortality and is linked to the rising incidence of obesity worldwide (World Health Organization, 2011).  Evidence suggests the theoretical concepts from social cognitive theory identified as individual, social and environmental factors influence the facilitators and barriers to healthy eating (HE). The purpose of this study is to better understand the complexities related to HE and provide insight leading to increased FVI in a community garden setting.

 Methods: A qualitative pilot study design was used.  Data was collected from 13 individuals participating in a community garden (CG) project.  Questions asked pertained to barriers and facilitators of HE, benefits of a CG, and willingness to use social media as a prompt for HE. Dialog was encouraged and data collection considered complete after no new responses were offered.  Comprehensive analysis of the recorded focus group took place following transcription and emerging themes were identified. 

Results: Themes that were facilitators for HE included 1) positive impact on the body, 2) having family support, 3) using technology [text-messages and e-mail reminders to prompt HE throughout the week], and 4) overall enjoyment of cooking.  Barriers included 1) busy lifestyles, 2) availability of unhealthy foods, 3) cost of HE, and 4) pleasant taste of unhealthy foods.  Participants believed participating in the CG positively impacted HE.

Conclusion: Gaining a better understanding of the complex facilitators and barriers related to HE is an important step towards obesity prevention and creating a healthy population at the community level. Insights gained from this research may lead to new strategies beneficial for educating the population on HE.  Further, the use of social media to prompt HE is suggested as an acceptable method of encouraging HE amidst busy lifestyles and availability of unhealthy food choices.