According to a comparative study that was carried out with the participation of 37,672 people from 21 different countries in Europe and that was published on May 13 in the PLOS ONE magazine, some of the significant factors that determine fruit and vegetable consumption in Europe are gender, educational level, and regional affiliation. In fact, the study concluded that women eat healthier than men, registering a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables among the population with a higher educational level.
England is the country with the largest social gap in terms of fruit and vegetable purchases, while Spain and Turkey are among those with the least difference, according to 2014 data from the European Statistical Office. Aileen Robertson, a professor at the Danish Global School of Nutrition and Health and a nutrition adviser to the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), believes that this is because these countries can produce their own food. In addition, he stated, the populations of the lower social levels that live in cities have a hard time complying with the World Health Organization's recommendation of eating 5 pieces of fruits or vegetables a day.
Tonje Holte, the main author of the study and researcher at the University of Agder (Norway), believes that Slovenia, Portugal, and Spain, which lead the list, could be taken as an example for countries, such as Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the last links in the chain. "We still haven't demonstrated why, but my theory is that the countries that consume these products the most are the ones with the most space and the possibility of producing them," the expert stated.
According to Robertson, the inequality between how men and women eat is very worrying. Men have the highest risk of cardiovascular disease, which is why it is necessary they learn how to eat, cook, and appreciate healthy foods from their childhood.
“Kids only want sweets and you have to get them used to other flavors. Otherwise, they'll never be able to appreciate the healthy foods,” Robertson stated. In addition, all experts consulted agreed that it was time to eliminate the stereotype that men must eat meat while women should order a salad to take care of their figure.