STUDY OBJECTIVE: Firstly, to determine the demographic and behavioural characteristics of low fruit and vegetable consumers. Secondly, to investigate whether knowledge and attitudes are barriers to consumption of fruit and vegetables. DESIGN: Cross sectional survey: an interviewer administrated questionnaire was used to assess the demographic, knowledge, attitude, and behavioural characteristics of the respondents. SETTING: England. PARTICIPANTS: Random sample of 5553 men and women aged between 16 and 74 years. Response rate 70%. MAIN RESULTS: The main demographic characteristics of the respondents identified as low consumers of fruit and vegetables (less than daily consumption of either fruit or vegetables) were age, sex, and smoking status. The adjusted odds ratios were 2.59 for those aged 16-24 years compared with those aged 45-74 years, 2.17 for men compared with women, and 1.77 for current smokers compared with never smokers. The most important knowledge and attitude statements after adjusting for the demographic variables were disagreeing with the statement "healthy foods are enjoyable" (odds ratio 1.90) and agreeing with the statement "I don't really care what I eat" (odds ratio 1.76). The impact of knowledge seemed less important than attitudes about a healthy diet in characterising a low fruit and vegetable consumer. CONCLUSIONS: These findings are relevant to future strategies for improving intake of fruit and vegetables, but demonstrate the complexity of interventions required, and the dangers inherent in assuming simplistic relations between psychosocial factors and behaviour.
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