Access to information technologies and consumption of fruits and vegetables in South Africa: evidence from nationally representative data
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Extensive evidence indicates that fruit and vegetable (F+V) consumption leads to reduced chances of diet related non-communicable diseases (NCDs). However, the F+V consumption levels remain low. This paper investigates the extent to which access to information technologies improves F+V consumption in South Africa. A nationally representative sample of 20,908 households was analysed using the Poisson and logit regression models. The study results indicated that most households do not consume sufficient F+V per day. Only 26% of the household heads consumed F+V at least five times a day. Access to mobile phones, radio, television, and internet was associated with increasing frequency of F+V consumption, and higher chances that a household would consume the minimum recommended levels. The association between the communication technologies and F+V consumption varied. Television access had the highest association with both foods, while internet was only significantly associated with vegetable consumption. Several demographic and socio-economic factors played a key role in shaping F+V consumption patterns. The results show that there is scope to disseminate nutrition awareness and education programs, through mobile phones, internet, radio and television in South Africa. The interventions to promote F+V consumption should be tailored according to the different socio-economic profiles of the population.