Variation in fruit and vegetable consumption among adults in Britain. An analysis from the dietary and nutritional survey of British adults

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;53(12):946-52. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1600877.


Objectives: Using a national representative sample to examine variation in fruit and vegetable consumption among adults in the UK, with particular reference to consumers with high and low reported intakes.

Design: National representative dietary survey using 7-d weighed diet records of men and women aged 16-64 y living in private households in the UK in 1986-1987.

Setting: The UK.

Subjects: 1087 men and 1110 women. The sample was selected by a multi-stage random probability design. The response was 70%. Subjects with low energy intake were subsequently excluded.

Main outcome measures: Food group, nutrient intake, physiological measures socio-economic, demographic and behavioural characteristics.

Results: Consumption of fruit and vegetables was estimated. The sample was divided by sex into four quarter groups according to fruit and vegetable consumption. There were significant similarities between quarter groups in fruit and vegetable and other food intake, nutrient intake, physiological measures, and socioeconomic, demographic and behavioural variable. The lowest consumers of fruit and vegetables had a mean intake of 738 g/week (men) and 630 g/week (women), equivalent to 1.3 and 1.1 portion/d, respectively. Conversely, the mean intake of both men women with the highest consumption was 3137 g/week (5.6 portions day). There were more than twice as many adults in the age group 16-24 located in Q1 than in Q4. The Manual social class and those in receipt of benefits were negatively associated with fruit and vegetable consumption. Smokers were significantly associated with low fruit and vegetable intake. Being married was associated with increased fruit and vegetable intake and being single or divorced/separated was associated with low fruit and vegetable intake. Eating home grown produce was associated with high intake. Consumers who lived in London or the South-East were associated with higher fruit and vegetable intake.

Conclusions: The analysis draws attention to the wide variation in reported fruit and vegetable consumption among British adults. High consumers merit further investigation to elucidate practical strategies for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. Strategies to increase consumption should be targeted at groups most likely to include low consumers of fruits and vegetables.

Sponsorship: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diet Surveys*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Smoking
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United Kingdom
  • Vegetables*