Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Disparities in vegetable and fruit consumption: European cases from the north to the south

Gun Roosa1 c1, Lars Johanssona2, Anu Kasmela3, Jurate Klumbienéa4 and Ritva Prättäläa5

a1 National Institute for Consumer Research, Norway

a2 National Council on Nutrition and Physical Activity, Norway

a3 Centre for Health Education and Promotion, Estonia

a4 Kaunas University of Medicine, Lithuania

a5 National Public Health Institute, Finland


Objective: To present disparities in consumption of vegetables and fruits in Europe and to discuss how educational level, region and level of consumption influence the variation.

Design: A review of selected studies from 1985 to 1997.

Setting/subjects: 33 studies (13 dietary surveys, nine household budget surveys and 11 health behaviour surveys) representing 15 European countries were selected based on criteria developed as part of the study. Association between educational level and consumption of vegetables and fruits was registered for each study and common conclusions were identified.

Results: In the majority of the studies, with the exception of a few in southern and eastern Europe, consumption of vegetables and fruits was more common among those with higher education. The results suggest that in regions where consumption of vegetables and fruits is more common, the lower social classes tend to consume more of these than the higher social classes.

Conclusions: The differences in the patterns of disparities in vegetable and fruit consumption between regions, as well as within populations, need to be considered when efforts to improve nutrition and health are planned.

(Received February 21 2000)

(Accepted June 02 2000)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email