Background: Fruit and vegetables are protective of a number of chronic diseases, however their intakes have been shown to vary by socioeconomic position (SEP). Household and food shopping environmental factors are thought to contribute to these differences.
Objectives: To determine whether household and food shopping environmental factors are associated with fruit and vegetable (FV) intakes, and contribute to socioeconomic inequalities in FV consumption.
Design: Cross-sectional data were obtained by a postal questionnaire among 4333 adults (23-85 years) living in 168 neighbourhoods in the south-eastern Netherlands. Participants agreed/disagreed with a number of statements about the characteristics of their household and food shopping environments, including access, prices and quality. Education was used to characterize socioeconomic position (SEP). Main outcome measures were whether or not participants consumed fruit or vegetables on a daily basis. Multi-level logistic regression models examined between-area variance in FV consumption and associations between characteristics of the household and food shopping environments and FV consumption.
Results: Only a few household and food shopping environmental factors were significantly associated with fruit and vegetable consumption, and their prevalence was low. Participants who perceived FV to be expensive were more likely to consume them. There were significant socioeconomic inequalities in fruit and vegetable consumption (odds ratios of not consuming fruit and vegetables were 4.26 and 5.47 among the lowest-educated groups for fruit and vegetables, respectively), however these were not explained by any household or food shopping environmental factors.
Conclusions: Improving access to FV in the household and food shopping environments will only make a small contribution to improving population consumption levels, and may only have a limited effect in reducing socioeconomic inequalities in their consumption.
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