To describe and compare the consumption of the main groups and sub-groups of vegetables and fruits (V&F) in men and women from the centres participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Cross-sectional analysis. Dietary intake was assessed by means of a 24-hour dietary recall using computerised interview software and standardised procedures. Crude and adjusted means were computed for the main groups and sub-groups of V&F by centre, separately for men and women. Adjusted means by season, day of the week and age were estimated using weights and covariance analysis.
Twenty-seven centres in 10 European countries participating in the EPIC project.
In total, 35 955 subjects (13 031 men and 22 924 women), aged 35–74 years, randomly selected from each EPIC cohort.
The centres from southern countries had the highest consumption of V&F, while the lowest intake was seen in The Netherlands and Scandinavia for both genders. These differences were more evident for fruits, particularly citrus. However, slightly different patterns arose for some sub-groups of vegetables, such as root vegetables and cabbage. Adjustment for body mass index, physical activity, smoking habits and education did not substantially modify the mean intakes of vegetables and fruits.
Total vegetable and fruit intake follows a south–north gradient in both genders, whereas for several sub-groups of vegetables a different geographic distribution exists. Differences in mean intake of V&F by centre were not explained by lifestyle factors associated with V&F intake.