News

Consumption of fruits and vegetables continues to decline in the UK

July 31, 2013

Decreasing fruit and vegetable intakes have triggered a comeback of scurvy and rickets in the UK due to insufficient supplies of vitamin C and D.

According to a new report, consumption of fruit and vegetables has fallen in the UK at a faster rate than in the rest of Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the US (1). On average, each person in Britain is eating approx. 4 kg (8 lb 13 oz) less fruit and vegetables a year than they were in 2007 (a drop of 3%). Britons eat 346 g (12 oz) of fruit and vegetables each day, which is well below the World Health Organisation’s recom-mendation, which roughly translates into five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. In 2009, an analysis of case studies showed that the number of children admitted to the hospital with scurvy (a symptom of vita-
min C deficiency) rose by more than 50% during the last three years (2). An earlier survey based on the blood vitamin C levels in 433 men and 876 women indicated that an estimated 25% of the men and 16% of the women in the low-income/materially deprived population had plasma vitamin C concentrations that were indicative of deficiency, and a further fifth of the population had levels in the depleted range (3). Reporting low-dietary vitamin C intake, not taking vitamin supplements, and smoking were all predictors of extremely low vitamin C levels. Nutrition experts commented that cases of scurvy and rickets (caused by vitamin D deficiency) seem to be coming back. The British Medical Association stated that food standards in the UK
are worse now than they were during wartime rations.

References

  1. Van der Hamsvoort C. The fruit and veg conundrum. Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory of Rabobank. 2013.
  2. Irvine C. Child scurvy cases rising. The Telegraph. Published online November 2009.
  3. Mosdøl A. et al. Estimated prevalence and predictors of vitamin C deficiency within UK's low-income population. J Public Health. 2008; 30(4):456-460.