Objective: To determine low-income consumers' attitudes and behaviour towards fruit and vegetables, in particular issues of access to, affordability of and motivation to eat fruit and vegetables.
Design and setting: Questionnaire survey mailed to homes owned by a large UK housing association.
Participants: Participants were 680 low-income men and women, aged 17-100 years.
Results: Age, employment, gender, smoking and marital status all affected attitudes towards access, affordability and motivation to eat fruit and vegetables. Few (7%) participants experienced difficulty in visiting a supermarket at least once a week, despite nearly half having no access to a car for shopping. Fruit and vegetables were affordable to this low-income group in the amounts they habitually bought; purchasing additional fruits and vegetables was seen as prohibitively expensive. Less than 5% felt they had a problem with eating healthily and yet only 18% claimed to eat the recommended 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
Conclusions: Supported by research, current UK Government policy is driven by the belief that low-income groups have difficulties in access to and affordability of fruit and vegetables. Findings from this particular group suggest that, of the three potential barriers, access and affordability were only a small part of the 'problem' surrounding low fruit and vegetable consumption. Thus, other possible determinants of greater consequence need to be identified. We suggest focusing attention on motivation to eat fruit and vegetables, since no dietary improvement can be achieved if people do not recognise there is a problem.