Dietary habits of adolescents living in North America, Europe or Oceania: A review on fruit, vegetable and legume consumption, sodium intake, and adherence to the Mediterranean Diet

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2019 Jun;29(6):544-560. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2019.03.003. Epub 2019 Mar 14.


Aims: This review aimed at investigating fruit, vegetable and legume consumption, salt/sodium intake, and the adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern in adolescents, three key aspects towards the adoption of a healthy diet.

Data synthesis: Three separate searches were carried out on PubMed and Scopus, using the same procedure, searching for studies published in the previous decade with data on fruit and/or vegetable or legume consumption, salt or sodium intake, and adherence to the Mediterranean Diet assessed using the KIDMED questionnaire. The review included a total of 58 papers, which describe original investigations on healthy adolescents (10-19 years old) living in North America, Europe or Oceania, with a sample size >150 participants. The average fruit and vegetable consumption has been found strongly below the recommended values of 400 grams or 5 portions per day in almost all the examined populations. Very little is known about adolescents' legume consumption. Few available data have been found also for sodium intake and, for the majority of the screened populations, levels were far above the recommended 5 grams per day. Lastly, a medium-low adherence to the Mediterranean Diet has been found for adolescents living in Mediterranean Countries.

Conclusions: Adolescents living in North America, Europe or Oceania are far from being compliant with the nutritional recommendations for fruit, vegetables, legumes, and sodium, and they do not follow the principles of the Mediterranean Diet. Educational and behavioural interventions are required to improve adolescents' dietary patterns.

Keywords: Adolescence; Fruit & vegetable; Legume; Mediterranean Diet; Salt.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Europe
  • Fabaceae
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North America
  • Nutritional Status
  • Oceania
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Sodium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Sodium, Dietary / adverse effects
  • Vegetables*
  • Young Adult


  • Sodium, Dietary