People in France are failing to eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. That is what surveys on food consumption and eating habits of the French by CREDOC (Centre de Recherche pour l’Etude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie), the French Research Centre for the Study and Monitoring of Living Standards, have revealed.
The French National Nutrition and Health Programme (Programme national nutrition santé, PNNS) recommends the consumption of at least “5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day”. Eating fruit and vegetables provides significant health benefits in the form of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre as well as protecting people against chronic health conditions and so on.
CREDOC analysed compliance with this guideline among a sample of 1,500 households that are representative for the population. Its surveys on food consumption and eating habits in France (Comportements et Consommations Alimentaires en France, CCAF) span a period of ten years.
Just one in four French people follow the advice
The number of people who eat large amounts of fruit and vegetables (at least 5 or more portions a day) has never been as low as in 2016. Low-skilled French workers have the lowest fruit and vegetable intake, but the same pattern is also becoming more prevalent among highly skilled workers.
The youngest generations even eat up to 4 times less fruit and vegetables than their elders. And the more children in a household, the less fruit and vegetables the family eats! CREDOC also highlighted the fact that there is a strong increase in the number of people with a low fruit and vegetable intake (fewer than 2 portions a day) in northern France.
One of the possible consequences of not eating enough fruit and vegetables is the lack of a balanced diet, which is sometimes associated with weight gain. Over the same period, the number of obese or overweight children between 3 and 14 years of age rose to 19.8% (compared with 15.8% in 2007), or nearly one in five children.
People tend to eat more fresh fruit
However, 25% of the population still meet the target, mostly because they eat fruit. Adults who consume fewer than 3.5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day on average eat 2 servings of fruit. Adults who eat 5-a-day or more consume 6.9 servings in total, or 1.92 portion of fresh vegetables and 2.85 servings of fresh fruit.
Ensuring the French population meets the nutritional guidelines is a real challenge for CREDOC.
The challenge for the next few years is to make people love their vegetables again. The Louis Bonduelle Foundation has developed several practical tools to raise awareness, which you can find here.