International and domes­tic fruit and vegetable consumption, methodo­logical issues

Friday, October 9, 2015

Authors: Géza Székely, Viktor Losó, Arnold Tóth

 

Summary

Fruit and vegetable consumption plays a multi-level inter­mediary role in the development of people’s health status and body weight. Even using state-of-the-art methods, it is hard to find unambiguous causality, because it has an especially complex biological and behavioral connection to health. The public burden imposed by illnesses related to low fruit and vegetable consumption is significant, but not the most significant. Definition of the fruit and veg­etable categories is not uniform, even though it is always related to their health significance, i.e. their nutrient and fiber contents. National and professional fruit and vegeta­ble consumption recommendations usually follow WHO recommendations, but do not always coincide with the latter. In addition to unfortunate methodological and in­terpretation difficulties, the goal in this case is to bridge the „attitude-behavior gap”, i.e. conquering the complex problem that people want to act differently from what they actually do.

Based on the data of the Household Budget Survey of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (CSO-HBS), fruit and vegetable categories that are bought in the largest amounts are presented, according to settlement size, val­ue bought, quantity produced, as well as the size of the household.

 

1. Introduction and literature review

Consumption of fruits and vegetables is an important component of a healthy and balanced diet and, thus, of a healthy lifestyle. According to World Health Organization statistics, as well as domestic and international research, the health status of people depends, to an extent of 73%, on factors that can be influenced. Most of these originate from the lifestyle, followed by environmental factors and the healthcare system. Fruit and vegetable consumption plays a multi-level intermediary role in the development of people’s health status and body weight. Even using state-of-the-art methods, it is hard to find unambiguous causal­ity [1], because it has an especially complex biological and behavioral connection to health [2]. For most Europeans, the concept of a healthy diet is as­sociated with the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and there are many people who are convinced that they eat healthy [3]. Several research studies showed a con­nection between high fruit and vegetable consumption and a decrease in the risk of chronic diseases [4], [5]. It is supported by sound scientific evidence that high fruit and vegetable consumption provides protection against certain heart diseases, stroke and certain cancers. In the estimation of the WHO, insufficient fruit and vegetable in­take is responsible worldwide for 14% of gastro-intestinal cancer deaths, 11% of ischemic heart disease deaths (due to insufficient blood supply of the heart muscle), and 10% of the deaths caused by stroke [6].

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