Fruit and vegetable consumption



Fruit and vegetable consumption

What is it?

Fruit and Vegetable Consumption is based the proportion of students in Grades 7/8 that meet the fruit and vegetable recommendations of the Health Canada Food Guide. It is recommended that children receive six servings of fruit and vegetables per day.

Why is it important?

Sufficient fruit and vegetable consumption reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other chronic diseases like diabetes. Eating fruits and vegetable is also associated with decreased risk of obesity. Measuring fruit and vegetable consumption is also important because it can mean that students are substituting fruits and vegetables for high energy, low nutrient foods. Fruit and vegetable consumption is impacted by physical access to healthy food options, affordability and knowledge of healthy food options. It is important to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption in childhood because it can have a positive impact on dietary patterns later in life.

What does it mean?

In Toronto, only 20% of middle school students get the daily recommended six servings of fruits and vegetables. On average, students eat fruits and vegetables 3 to 4 times per day. Figure 3 shows that there is an inequality in fruit and vegetable consumption by immigrant status. Newcomer students were significantly less likely to meet the fruit and vegetable consumption guidelines, compared to Canadian-born students. There was no significant difference between longer-term immigrant and Canadian-born students.

20%

of students get the
recommended amount
of fruits and vegetables.

1.8_Figure2
Data Notes
Information about fruit and vegetable consumption was measured by self-report. Students were asked "How often do you eat fresh, frozen or canned fruit (do not include fruit juices)?" and "How often do you eat raw or cooked vegetables (including green salads, and vegetable juices like carrot juice or V8?" The response options for both question were: Never; Sometimes but not every day; Once a day; Twice a day; 3 times a day; 4 times a day; 5 times a day; 6 times a day; 7 times a day; 8 or more times a day.

Calculation
Numerator: Number of students who get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables
Denominator: Total number of students who were surveyed

Figure 1
Sources: Numerator & Denominator – Toronto Public Health. Student Survey Questionnaire. 2014.

  • This analysis was restricted to students in grades 7 and 8.
  • Children who had a missing response for either question were excluded.
  • Students were specifically asked how many time they eat fruits and vegetables. Amount of times and number of servings may not be consistent, depending on the child's interpretation.
Figure 2
Sources: Numerator & Denominator – Toronto Public Health. Student Survey Questionnaire. 2014.

  • This analysis was restricted to students in grades 7 and 8.
  • The number of servings of fruits and vegetables was summed based on responses to the two aforementioned survey questions to get a mean number of servings.
  • Children who had a missing response for either question were excluded.
  • Students were specifically asked how many time they eat fruits and vegetables. Amount of times and number of servings may not be consistent, depending on the child's interpretation.
Figure 3
Sources: Numerator & Denominator – Toronto Public Health. Student Survey Questionnaire. 2014.

  • Immigrant status was measured by student self-report. Students were asked if they were born in Canada and if not, how old they were when they arrived in Canada. The number of years in Canada was then derived based on the student's reported age. Newcomer students were those who had lived in Canada for 5 or fewer years. Longer-term immigrant students were those who had lived in Canada for 6 to 10 years.
  • Significant differences were estimated using overlapping 95% confidence intervals estimated using the Normal distribution.