Changing patterns of fruit and vegetable intake in countries of the former Soviet Union

Sarah Krull Abe, Andrew Stickley, Bayard Roberts, Erica Richardson , Pamela Ann Abbott, David Rotman , Martin Mckee

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To assess how the frequency of low fruit and vegetable consumption has changed in countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU) between 2001 and 2010 and to identify factors associated with low consumption.

Cross-sectional surveys. A standard questionnaire was administered at both time points to examine fruit and vegetable consumption frequency. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between demographic, socio-economic and health behavioural variables and low fruit and vegetable consumption in 2010.

Nationally representative population samples from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.

Adults aged 18 years and older.

Between 2001 and 2010 notable changes occurred in fruit and vegetable consumption in many countries resulting in a slight overall deterioration in diet. By 2010 in six countries about 40 % of the population was eating fruit once weekly or less often, while for vegetables the corresponding figure was in excess of 20 % in every country except Azerbaijan. A worse socio-economic situation, negative health behaviours (smoking and alcohol consumption) and rural residence were all associated with low levels of fruit and vegetable consumption.

International dietary guidelines emphasise the importance of fruit and vegetable consumption. The scale of inadequate consumption of these food groups among much of the population in many FSU countries and its link to socio-economic disadvantage are deeply worrying. This highlights the urgent need for a greater focus to be placed on population nutrition policies to avoid nutrition-related diseases in the FSU countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1924-1932
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number11
Early online date23 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Sources of funding: The HITT Project was funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme, project HEALTH-F2-2009-223344. The European Commission cannot accept any responsibility for any information
provided or views expressed.

Conflicts of interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. Ethics: The research was approved by the Ethics Committee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Authors’ contributions: S.K.A. developed the study idea, conducted the analyses and was the principal author of the paper. A.S. provided comments on the manuscript. B.R. helped conceive the study idea, provided statistical expertise and commented on the manuscript. E.R. helped contextualise the study idea and provided comments on the manuscript. P.A. and D.R. commented on the manuscript. M.M. helped conceive the study idea, wrote sections of the manuscript and commented on the manuscript for intellectual content.

Acknowledgements: The authors are grateful to all members of the HITT project study teams who participated in the coordination and organisation of data
collection for this paper.


  • Diet
  • Former Soviet Union
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Consumption


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