Public Health Nutrition

Research paper

Fruit and vegetable consumption in a sample of 11-year-old children in ten European countries – the PRO GREENS cross-sectional survey

Christel Lyncha1 c1, Asa Gudrun Kristjansdottira2, Saskia J te Veldea3, Nanna Liena4, Eva Roosa5a6, Inga Thorsdottira2, Michael Krawinkela7, Maria Daniel Vaz de Almeidaa8, Angeliki Papadakia9a10, Cirila Hlastan Ribica11, Stefka Petrovaa12, Bettina Ehrenblada1, Thorhallur I Halldorssona2, Eric Poortvlieta1 and Agneta Yngvea1a13

a1 Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, NOVUM, SE 141 83 Huddinge, Stockholm, Sweden

a2 Unit for Nutrition Research, Faculty of Food Science and Nutrition, School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland & Landspitali University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland

a3 EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research and Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

a4 Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

a5 Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki, Finland

a6 Hjelt Institute, Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

a7 Institute of Nutritional Sciences, Unit for International Nutrition, Faculty of Agricultural Nutrition, Environmental Sciences and Home Economics, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany

a8 Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

a9 Department of Social Medicine, Preventive Medicine and Nutrition Clinic, University of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

a10 Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

a11 National Institute of Public Health, Ljubljana, Slovenia

a12 National Center for Public Health Protection, Sofia, Bulgaria

a13 School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden


Objective To describe fruit and vegetable intake of 11-year-old children in ten European countries and compare it with current dietary guidelines.

Design Cross-sectional survey. Intake was assessed using a previously validated questionnaire containing a pre-coded 24 h recall and an FFQ which were completed in the classroom. Portion sizes were calculated using a standardized protocol.

Setting Surveys were performed in schools regionally selected in eight countries and nationally representative in two countries.

Subjects A total of 8158 children from 236 schools across Europe participating in the PRO GREENS project.

Results The total mean consumption of fruit and vegetables was between 220 and 345 g/d in the ten participating countries. Mean intakes did not reach the WHO population goal of ≥400 g/d in any of the participating countries. Girls had a significantly higher intake of total fruit and vegetables than boys in five of the countries (Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Bulgaria and Slovenia). Mean total fruit intake ranged between 114 and 240 g/d and vegetable intake between 73 and 141 g/d. When using the level ≥400 g/d as a cut-off, only 23·5 % (13·8–37·0 %) of the studied children, depending on country and gender, met the WHO recommendation (fruit juice excluded).

Conclusions Fruit and vegetable consumption was below recommended levels among the schoolchildren in all countries and vegetable intake was lower than fruit intake. The survey shows that there is a need for promotional activities to improve fruit and vegetable consumption in this age group.

(Received March 18 2013)

(Revised May 13 2014)

(Accepted May 25 2014)


  • Fruit and vegetable consumption;
  • Children;
  • Europe


c1 Corresponding author: Email