Public Health Nutrition

Social, economic, political and environmental determinants

Influences on child fruit and vegetable intake: sociodemographic, parental and child factors in a longitudinal cohort study

Louise R Jonesa1, Colin D Steera2, Imogen S Rogersa3 and Pauline M Emmetta2 c1

a1 Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

a2 Department of Community Based Medicine, University of Bristol, Barley House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol BS8 2BN, UK

a3 School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Brighton, Bringhton, UK


Objective To examine the sociodemographic, parental and child factors that predict fruit and vegetable consumption in 7-year-old children.

Design Diet was assessed using three 1d unweighed food diaries. The child’s daily fruit and vegetable consumption was calculated by summing the weight of each type of fruit, fruit juice and vegetable consumed. The various others factors measured were assessed by a questionnaire at different time points.

Setting The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

Subjects A total of 7285 children aged 7 years residing in the south-west of England during 1999–2000.

Results Median daily fruit and vegetable consumption (201 g) was below the recommendations for this age group (320 g). Girls ate more fruit and vegetables per unit energy (30·3 g/MJ) than boys (26·7 g/MJ; P =< 0·001). The predictors of fruit and vegetable consumption were mostly similar. Fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with maternal consumption, maternal education status and parental rules about serving fruit/vegetables every day, food expenditure per person and whether the child was choosy about food. Vegetable consumption was also associated with the other characteristics of the child, such as whether the child enjoyed food and whether the child tried a variety of foods.

Conclusions Children are not eating recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables, particularly boys. Consumption of fruit and vegetables appears to be influenced by parental rules about daily consumption and parental consumption and by the child’s choosiness. Parent’s actions could influence this. These findings may prove useful for those planning healthy eating campaigns for children.

(Received December 10 2008)

(Accepted December 22 2009)

(Online publication March 03 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Email