The review, published by EUFIC, concludes that most European citizens do not reach Wold Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations to consume more than 400 grams of vegetables and fruit per day - but highlights that intakes vary among European regions, with intakes higher in Southern EU countries compared to the Northern regions.
Despite highlighting issues limiting the possibility to assess fruit and vegetable intake on a European level, the report reveals that there are some consistent findings on consumption patterns in Europe – noting that fruit and vegetable consumption patterns are determined by a wide range of factors including: age, gender and socio-economic status.
EUFIC said the influence of these factors “seems to be mediated by other factors” including food preferences, knowledge, skills and affordability.
Fruit and vegetables form an important part a healthy, balanced diet – either as part of a meal or snack.
They provide a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, in addition to supplying biologically active secondary metabolites such as phytochemicals – that have been suggested to be beneficial for health.
EUFIC noted that research has shown that high intakes of fruit and vegetables are associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases; particularly, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (such as those of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, stomach and lungs).
The WHO recommends consuming at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables – not counting potatoes and other starchy tubers – per day.
The report notes that in Europe recommendations for consumption vary between countries, but in general, “are in line with the WHO recommendation,” with countries, such as Denmark, recommend higher amounts such as 600 grams per day.
Meeting the standard
EUFIC noted that certain elements of previous initiatives to increase consumption – a priority for international organisations as well as national governments – been shown to improve fruit and vegetable intake across populations.
The report noted that initiatives that have been positive have lasted at least 12 months – adding that multi-component strategies addressing both personal factors, such as knowledge and skills, as well as the physical and social environment have proved most successful.
The full report from EUFIC can be found by following this link.