US and France adult fruit and vegetable consumption patterns: an international comparison

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;63(1):11-7. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2008.2. Epub 2008 Feb 13.


Background/objectives: To observe fruit and vegetable consumption as it relates to body mass index (BMI) and other variables, by analyzing the health surveys of two countries -- the United States and France -- with traditionally distinct diets, and identifying factors that may explain the differences.

Subjects/methods: Two nationally representative surveys that assess food intake via 24-h diet recalls. Respondents include 2126 women and 1911 men from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and 1572 women and 1141 men from the French Nutrition Barometer Survey. Standard linear regression models and t-tests of both simple and predictive marginal means were run employing the software package SUDAAN.

Results: Americans appear to consume fruits and vegetables less often than their French counterparts (1.04 vs 1.33 times per day fruits; 1.98 vs 2.29 times per day vegetables). American men consume fruits and vegetables least often (0.98 times per day fruits; 1.88 times per day vegetables) than do American women or French men (1.10 vs 1.25 times per day fruits; 2.07 vs 2.18 times per day vegetables). French women consume fruits and vegetables most often (1.41 times per day fruits; 2.41 times per day vegetables). The French have lower mean BMI than Americans (23.34 vs 28.22 women; 25.20 vs 28.02 men). Regression analyses showed that age, BMI and educational attainment are strongly associated with frequency of consumption.

Conclusions: These results support our hypothesis that the French tend to eat fruits and vegetables more often than Americans. This study proves to be an important first step in determining some of the influential factors that may affect various populations' consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Diet / ethnology*
  • Educational Status
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology*
  • Female
  • France
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Regression Analysis
  • United States
  • Vegetables*
  • Young Adult