Objective: To examine baseline rates of fruit and vegetable consumption among adults in the 5 A Day research trials in order to identify any regional and sociodemographic differences associated with daily servings.
Design: The main outcome measure was the frequency of fruits and vegetables consumed within 1 month of the baseline survey as assessed by a 7-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ).
Subjects/setting: Participants (N = 15,060) were from 7 study centers. Study centers included schools (N = 48), worksites (N = 60), churches (N = 50), or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinics (N = 15) in interventions to increase fruit and vegetable consumption.
Statistical analyses: Means and standard errors, adjusting for clusters, were calculated. A mixed linear model analyzed relationships between fruit and vegetable consumption and regional center, gender, age, race, education, income, marital status, food-shopping responsibility, and whether one lives with children.
Results: Results indicate an overall mean intake of 3.6 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Significant differences in mean daily servings were found among the regional study centers (low of 3.0 to high of 4.1). There were significant differences in mean daily consumption by age (< 30 years = 3.7 servings per day; 30 to 49 years = 3.4; > or = 50 years = 3.7), education (> high school = 3.4 servings per day; high school graduate = 3.4; some college = 3.5; college graduate = 3.9), race (black = 3.7 servings per day; Hispanic = 3.0; white = 3.6; other = 3.7), marital status (married = 3.6 servings per day; single = 3.5), and food-shopping responsibilities (little = 3.2 servings per day; about half = 3.6; most = 3.8). Only 17% of respondents ate 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Conclusions: The 7 regions showed significant variability in daily fruit and vegetable consumption, suggesting that a single national message to increase fruit and vegetable consumption may not reach the population segments most in need of changing. It is advisable to spend more time understanding the food consumption habits of the population under investigation to develop messages to foster behavior change.