Insufficient Fruit and Vegetable Intake in a Low- and Middle-Income Setting: A Population-Based Survey in Semi-Urban Tanzania

Nutrients. 2018 Feb 16;10(2):222. doi: 10.3390/nu10020222.


A daily intake of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables (FV) is recommended for protection against non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Inadequate FV intake is a global problem but resource-poor countries like Tanzania are most deprived and constitute settings where little is known for informing public health interventions. This study aimed to describe the prevalence of inadequate FV intake, frequency of FV intake, portions of FV intake and their associations with socio-demographic/lifestyle factors in South-Eastern Tanzania. Data on FV dietary indicators, socio-demographic factors, smoking, alcohol and healthcare use were collected from 7953 participants (≥15 years) of the population-based MZIMA open community cohort (2012-2013). Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine associations between FV intake outcomes and their socio-demographic/lifestyle determinants. Most (82%) of the participants did not meet the recommended daily FV intake While only a fraction consumed fruits daily (15.5%), almost half consumed vegetables daily (44.2%). However, the median (IQR) number of vegetable portions consumed was lower (2(1)/person/day) than that for fruits (2(2)/person/day) People with higher education were more likely to consume fruits daily. Independent correlates of inadequate FV intake included young age, being male, low education, low-income occupations, low alcohol, high tobacco and low healthcare use. Public health interventions should target the socio-economically deprived and culturally-rooted preferences while prioritizing promotion of vegetable for most immediate gain in overall FV intake.

Keywords: Ifakara; Tanzania; education; fruit and vegetables; healthcare use; occupation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Developing Countries* / economics
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Poverty* / economics
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances*
  • Tanzania
  • Urban Health* / economics
  • Vegetables*
  • Young Adult