Background: Indices of dietary quality including poor variety of fruits and vegetables and high consumption of energy-dense, nutrient poor (EDNP) foods, such as those high in fat sugar and salt, are risk factors for overweight and obesity and type 2 diabetes. Such indices of dietary quality have been associated with peoples’ confidence to prepare and cook meals from scratch (Caraher et al. 1999; Dowler & Calvert 1995; Leith 1998; Winkler & Turrell 2009). Household food gatekeepers’ confidence may have important implications for health promotion and disease management.
Aim: To examine the influence of gatekeeper confidence on food-related behaviours such as fruit and vegetable consumption and EDNP food consumption.
Methods: 1,008 Australian household food gatekeepers from the Global Market Insite (GMI) research participated in the Australian Dietary Gatekeeper Survey. Questions elicited details of gatekeeper capabilities, food preparation and acquisition, the home eating environment, the external food environment, dietary behaviours and diet satisfaction, and demographics. Most items employed Likert-type response scales.
Results: Two step cluster analysis identified three groups of respondents: (1) low confidence, (2) moderate confidence, and (3) high confidence. Overall, those in the highest confidence group were significantly more likely than those in the other two groups to indicate higher vegetable prominence in meals, and the provision/availability of a larger variety of fruits and vegetables in the home, and they were significantly less likely to use convenience ingredients. Mean gatekeeper body mass index was significantly lower in the highest confidence group than in the other groups.
Conclusion: Household food gatekeepers with higher nutrition and cooking confidence were more likely to provide a larger variety of fruits and vegetables in the home and use fewer convenience ingredients to prepare meals. Food education strategies could be implemented to improve confidence regarding essential food skills, especially in high disease risk groups.