The current ecological approach in health behaviour research recognises that health behaviour needs to be understood in a broad environmental context. This has led to an exponential increase in the number of studies on this topic. It is the aim of this systematic review to summarise the existing empirical evidence pertaining to environmental influences on fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption. The environment was defined as ‘all factors external to the individual’. Scientific databases and reference lists of selected papers were systematically searched for observational studies among adults (18–60 years old), published in English between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 2004, with environmental factor(s) as independent factor(s), and fruit intake, vegetable intake or FV intake combined as one outcome measure as dependent factor(s). Findings showed there was a great diversity in the environmental factors studied, but that the number of replicated studies for each determinant was limited. Most evidence was found for household income, as people with lower household incomes consistently had a lower FV consumption. Married people had higher intakes than those who were single, whereas having children showed mixed results. Good local availability (e.g. access to one's own vegetable garden, having low food insecurity) seemed to exert a positive influence on intake. Regarding the development of interventions, improved opportunities for sufficient FV consumption among low-income households are likely to lead to improved intakes. For all other environmental factors, more replicated studies are required to examine their influence on FV intake.
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