Objectives: To determine whether socio-economic groups differ in their fruit and vegetable consumption, and the variety eaten, and whether socio-economic differences are similar for adolescents and adults. The study also examined whether socio-economic groups vary in their reported desire to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed, and the perceived barriers to achieving this.
Design, setting and subjects: The 1995 Australian National Nutrition Survey collected fruit and vegetable intake data from adolescents aged 13-17 years and adults 18-64 years using a 24-hour dietary recall. Gross annual household income was used to measure socio-economic position.
Results: Approximately 44% of males and 34% of females did not consume fruit in the 24 hours preceding the survey, and 20% of males and 17% of females did not consume vegetables. Among adolescents and adults, fruit and vegetable consumption was positively related to income. The only exception was vegetable consumption among adolescent males, which did not vary by income. Lower-income adults consumed a smaller variety of fruits and vegetables than their higher-income counterparts. Fruit and vegetable variety did not vary by income among adolescents. Lower-income adults expressed less desire to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption, and were more likely to report that price and storage were barriers to doing so. Socio-economic differences in consumption and variety were more apparent for adults than for adolescents.
Conclusions: In addition to increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables among the general population, nutrition interventions, programmes and policy aiming to improve diet should target adolescents and adults from low socio-economic groups. Strategies should address price and storage barriers.