RESEARCH – December 2004

NorBaGreen survey: consumption of food groups as dietary indicators of health in Estonia


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The food groups fruit, vegetables, bread and fish are proposed to be monitored as dietary indicators of health. The aim of the NORBAGREEN study was to examine, with a comparable method, the consumption frequency of these foods in the Nordic and the Baltic countries and to produce a validated instrument for future monitoring. The survey was performed in spring 2002 by using telephone interviews in the Nordic countries and personal interviews in the Baltic countries. The number of completed interviews was approx. 1000 persons/country aged 15–74 years. Validation studies were carried out in Finland and in Lithuania.

Estonia is characterised by the lowest consumption of fruit/berries and vegetables among the Nordic and the Baltic countries. Considering the situation, a fruit and vegetable promotion project has been carried out since 2003 in Estonia. For the evaluation of the project a repeat survey was executed in spring 2004 using similar methodology and a brief questionnaire.

There has been a significant positive increase in the consumption of fruit and vegetables in Estonia. The proportion of persons who consumed vegetables at least once a day was 35% in 2002 and 47% in 2004. Fruits were consumed daily among 26% and 47% of adults, respectively. Of the individual vegetables, onions, carrots and cucumbers were among the most popular ones. Of the individual fruits, apple, citrus fruits and banana were the three most popular ones. A slight increase was noted in the consumption of bread and fish. Five slices or more a day were consumed by 52% of adults in 2002 and by 58% in 2004. Fish was consumed twice a week and more often by 20% of adults in 2002 and by 24% in 2004.

The food consumption patterns in Estonia have changed in a positive way, especially in the groups with higher education and higher income. However, as the food consumption habits do not yet correspond to the dietary objectives, there is a great need for improving these dietary indicators of health.