SHEU food data: fruit, vegetables, 5-a-day and young people, children, school surveys

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Young people, fruit, vegetables and 5-a-day

The Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU) has been talking to young people, about their health and wellbeing, since 1977. The results, from the Health Related Behaviour Questionnaire (HRBQ), are used by health and education authorities to inform their planning. Over one million young people have responded to the HRBQ. Among the food topics that are explored in the surveys are the regularity of eating and the portion size of fruit and vegetables. Questions about eating fruit and vegetables have been asked in schools from the early 1980s.

As the HRBQ has evolved, there have been changes to the number of options included in the ‘food’ list in the questionnaire. The various options have appeared and disappeared over the years as determined by changing behaviour patterns of young people, user responses and survey feedback. Before 1990 there were 40 options which included ‘oranges and apples’. After 1990 the options were reduced to 38 items and ‘oranges and apples’ became ‘fresh fruit’. In 2001 there were 15 options. In recent years the number of food options included in the questionnaire has varied. Chart 1 shows results, 1999-2011, from 10-15 year olds who reported eating fresh fruit on ‘most days’.

Chart 1. Ate fresh fruit on most days 1999-2011

In each of the three age groups, females report eating more fresh fruit than the males. As they get older, pupils report less often eating fresh fruit on most days. Since 1999, the youngest female and the oldest male have consistently remained at the top and bottom of the chart. Around 55% of 10-11 year old females and around 32% of the 14-15 year old males report eating fresh fruit on most days.

The above is an extract - to read the complete report click here (fruit veg 5aday pdf)