British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Discrepancies between ecological and individual data on fruit and vegetable consumption in fifteen countries

Joceline Pomerleaua1 c1, Karen Locka1 and Martin McKeea1

a1 European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK


Although food supply statistics are commonly used in ecological studies of diet and disease, little information is available on how they compare with reported intakes of foods. The objective of the present study was to compare fruit and vegetable availability with estimates of national mean intakes derived from national food consumption surveys. Food availability statistics from the FAO were used. For each country, mean national supply, based on at least 3 years of FAO data, was calculated. National estimates of mean fruit and vegetable intakes were derived from population-based surveys from fifteen countries, gathered for the World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease Study revision for 2000. Extrapolations were made when survey data did not cover all age groups. For each country, the FAO:survey estimate ratio was calculated. This ratio ranged from 0·93 to 2·70 (median value=1·39). Although there was a tendency for FAO data to overestimate intakes (fourteen out of fifteen countries), the degree of overestimation varied greatly among the countries included in this study (5–270 %). As food supply statistics are the only source of information on dietary patterns in most countries of the world, further information on how they reflect food intakes is needed. Obtaining detailed and valid estimates of dietary intakes in more countries around the world will be essential for such comparisons.

(Received April 17 2002)

(Revised December 16 2002)

(Accepted January 06 2003)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Joceline Pomerleau, present address 8 Rue de Rémusat, Paris 75016, France, fax +33 1 45 20 16 71, email